To improve emergency response services and better protect the community, properties and infrastructure, the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) Board is proposing to construct a fire hall building on Mount Washington. The CVRD Board has given direction to move forward with the borrowing and approval process for the project and secured a grant for $900,000 to help reduce the costs for residents and property owners.

Project Background

The CVRD is committed to constructing and equipping an operating fire hall at Mount Washington, on property donated for this purpose. The proposed fire hall location can be viewed here.

An operating fire hall at Mount Washington will:

  • Improve fire department response time, helping to save lives and property and contributing to the overall wellbeing and safety of the community;
  • Provide permanent heated storage for the Mount Washington fire apparatus, tools and equipment which is required to be eligible for reduced residential fire insurance rates;
  • Provide a training location for volunteer firefighters;
  • Become the central location for promoting and encouraging volunteers.

The establishment of a fire hall may eventually lead to reduced fire insurance premium rates. In order to be eligible for reduced premiums, the Fire Underwriters Survey requires:

  • A responding fire hall within eight road kilometres;
  • A certified fire engine less than 25 years of age;
  • A minimum of 15 volunteer firefighters (currently there are eight volunteers).

The establishment of a fire hall is key to eventually being eligible for reduced residential fire insurance premiums. 

Anticipated Project Schedule
Process ItemTimeframe
AAP Process
(Notice Advertising and 30 day response period) 
January 2022 to late February 2022
Procurement Process 
(Contractor selection pending successful AAP)
March and April 2022
ConstructionMay to October 2022

Financial Impact

The project architect and engineering team has developed a design and cost estimates for the construction of a fire hall along with the purchase of equipment and project management costs. The total cost for the Mount Washington fire hall project is estimated to be $2.5 million dollars. With Federal grant funding of $900,000 and transfer from reserve of $190,000, the total amount the CVRD would be required to borrow is estimated to be $1.4 million dollars. 

If the fire hall project proceeds, the annual tax requisition required to maintain service delivery, including debt servicing, is anticipated to be $250,000. As an example; for a residential property assessed at $500,000 the tax increase for residents within this service area is anticipated to be approximately $123.40. 


Proposed Mount Washington Fire Hall Drawings

Elector Approval Process

The borrowing of funds to finance the project requires elector approval. This means the residents and property owners of the service area must give permission for the CVRD obtain a loan for constructing and equipping the new Mount Washington Fire Hall.

Bylaw No. 686 being “Mount Washington Resort Community Fire Protection Service Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 686, 2021” would authorize the CVRD to borrow an amount not to exceed one million four hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars ($1,425,000) to finance the costs of constructing and equipping a fire hall for the Mount Washington Resort Community Fire Protection Service. The loan would be paid back over a maximum of 30 years by the taxable properties within the Service Area. For a property assessed at $500,000, the increase in the annual property tax attributable to the borrowing is estimated at $123.

Bylaw No. 686 being “Mount Washington Resort Community Fire Protection Service Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 686, 2021”

The CVRD Board is seeking participating area approval of the electors by way of alternative approval process (AAP) for the entire Service Area.  An alternative approval process is a form of approval that allows electors to indicate whether they are against a local government proposal moving forward. Provincial legislation enables local governments to use the AAP to engage citizens about proposed bylaws or other matters requiring electoral approval. Formerly known as a counter-petition, the AAP requires that 10% or more of eligible voters sign and submit a form of opposition to the proposed initiative in order to prevent the local government from proceeding with the proposed initiative. The AAP provides electors with at least 30 days following the publication of notices to sign and submit an elector response form to indicate their opposition. For those electors that are in favour of the initiative, no action is required. 

With respect to the Mount Washington Resort Community Fire Protection Service, the number of eligible electors has been fairly determined to be 542 and the number of elector responses required to prevent the CVRD Board from proceeding without the further assent of the electors is 54. The deadline for receiving elector responses for this Alternative Approval Process will be established once the Board has given initial readings to the bylaw and approval has been received by the Inspector of Municipalities. The AAP provides that the Board may proceed with adoption of the Bylaw unless, by the deadline, at least 10% (being 54) of the electors indicate opposition which would then require that the CVRD Board obtain approval by assent vote (referendum).

Public inspection of the bylaw can be made at the CVRD office (770 Harmston Aveue, Courtenay) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Monday-Friday, except holidays) and on the CVRD website.

Residents who live within the service area will be receiving addressed letters providing fulsome details of the project, electoral approval process and deadlines.

  • If you have any questions about the project do not hesitate to contact James Bast, Manager of Fire Services at: 250-334-6044 or email.
  • If you have any questions about the AAP process, please contact Jake Martens, General Manager of Corporate Services at 250-334-6029 or email.

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Alternative Approval Process
Elector Response Forms

Elector responses must be given in the form established by the CVRD Board. Elector response forms will be available at the CVRD office (770 Harmston Ave., Courtenay, BC) and on the CVRD website from this webpage. The only persons entitled to sign the forms are electors of the Service Area. 

Eligibility for Resident Electors and Non-Resident Property Electors

According to section 172(1)(a) of the Local Government Act, a person must meet the qualifications of section 65 (resident elector) or section 66 (non-resident property elector) of the Local Government Act.

Resident Elector

To sign an elector response form as a resident elector, a person must meet all of the following qualifications:

  • be 18 years or older; and
  • be a Canadian citizen; and
  • have been a resident of BC for at least 6 months immediately before signing the elector response form; and
  • have been a resident of the Mount Washington Resort Community Fire Protection Service Area for at least 30 days immediately before signing the elector response form; and
  • not be disqualified from voting under the Local Government Act or any other enactment or not be otherwise disqualified by law from voting.

Non-Resident Property Elector

To sign an elector response form as a non-resident property elector, a person must meet all of the following qualifications:

  • not be entitled to register to vote as a resident elector; and
  • be 18 years of age or older; and
  • be a Canadian Citizen; and
  • have been a resident of BC for at least 6 months immediately before signing the elector response form; and
  • have been a registered owner of real property within the Mount Washington Resort Community Fire Protection Service Area for at least 30 days immediately before signing the elector response form; and
  • the only persons who are registered owners of the property are individuals who are not holding the property in trust for a corporation or another trust; and
  • not be disqualified from voting under the Local Government Act or any other enactment or not be otherwise disqualified by law from voting.

Note: The CVRD must conduct the AAP in accordance with the Local Government Act (the Act), which is a provincial statute. The Act includes certain requirements, including that: 

  • leases must be for at least 99 years in order to make a lease holder eligible to sign an elector response form as a non-resident property elector.  According to case law, a lease with a term stated as 60 years plus two 20 year renewals does not qualify as a lease of at least 99 years; the wording of the lease must be 60 years plus two 20 year extensions in order to be considered a lease of at least 99 years.
  • properties that are owned by a corporation, in whole or in part, are not eligible under the non-resident property elector provisions.
  • Only one non-resident property elector may sign an elector response form per property, regardless of how many people own the property; and, that owner must have the written consent of a majority of the other property owner(s) to sign the response form on their behalf.  Consent forms are available here and from the CVRD office.

If you have questions regarding elector eligibility, please contact Legislative Services at 250-334-6000.

Alternative Approval Process - Background

Local governments can use an Alternative Approval Process (AAP) as a way to obtain elector approval with respect to certain types of proposed bylaws. An AAP is less expensive than undertaking assent voting (referendum).

Learn about the Alternative Approval Process for local government

At its November 23, 2021 meeting, the CVRD Board endorsed the use of an Alternate Approval Process (AAP) to seek elector assent for this initiative. The staff report dated November 4, 2021 details the proposed timeline, the number of eligible electors, the AAP response form, public notice and other required elements of the process.   

Prior to undertaking an AAP, the Inspector of Municipalities (Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing) must first approve the request. 

A local government must also publish a Notice of Alternative Approval Process for two consecutive weeks in a local newspaper. In the case of this AAP, the CVRD is placing the Notice in the Comox Valley Record.

The method by which an eligible elector expresses opposition to Bylaw No. 686 is by signing and submitting an Elector Response Form to the CVRD. If 10% of eligible electors in the Service Area (54 people) oppose the CVRD Board's intention to adopt Bylaw No. 686, the CVRD Board cannot proceed with adopting the bylaw unless elector approval is obtained via assent voting. If the 10% threshold is not attained (i.e. if less than 54 electors submit Elector Response Forms), then the CVRD Board may proceed with adopting Bylaw No. 686.

Learn more about AAP’s and how they work

Background Documents
Q and A
Q. How much will this project impact my taxes?

A. As an example; for a residential property assessed at $500,000 the tax increase for this project is anticipated to be approximately $123.40 per year.

Q. When will the Alternative Approval Process (AAP) take place?

A. The AAP is anticipated to take place in early January 2022 with the 30 day response period ending in late February 2022. The CVRD will be mailing each property owner and resident a letter prior to the AAP to outline the exact process and timing.

Q. Will the fire hall reduce my fire insurance costs?

A. The establishment of a fire hall may eventually lead to reduced fire insurance premium rates for property owners. In order to be eligible for reduced premiums, the Fire Underwriters Survey requires:

  • The responding fire department be located within eight road kilometers. 
  • A certified fire engine less than 25 years of age
  • A minimum of 15 volunteer firefighters (currently there are 8 volunteers)

The establishment of a fire hall is key to eventually being eligible for reduced residential fire insurance premiums. 

Q. I understand that Mount Washington already has a fire service. Why do we need a fire hall?

A. Currently the Mount Washington Fire Department has eight volunteers able to provide an initial response, with a full fire department response coming from Oyster River Fire Rescue located approximately 38 km away. A Mount Washington Fire Hall will:

  • Improve fire department response time, helping to save lives and property and contributing to the overall wellbeing and safety of the community;
  •  Provide permanent heated storage for the Mount Washington fire apparatus, tools and equipment which is required to be eligible for reduced residential fire insurance rates;
  • Provide a training location for volunteer firefighters;
  • Become the central location for promoting and encouraging volunteers