The Mount Washington Alpine Resort is a 644 ha privately-owned tourism resort located within Electoral Area C of the Comox Valley Regional District. The resort area is bounded by Strathcona Provincial Park to the south and on the remaining three sides by private managed forest lands. As a privately-owned resort, the majority of the land base is owned by the primary developer of the resort (the Mt. Washington ownership group).
Mount Washington has a very small permanent, year-round population, which increases significantly during the winter ski season (seasonal residents and visitors). These unique circumstances had presented a resource challenge (funding and personnel) for the establishment of any fire protection service within the resort. In 2003, a formal feasibility study was completed and a petition conducted to determine public support for a fire protection service. The petition was not successful. In 2009, a major fire occurred prompting discussion and further study by the CVRD, but talks did not result in a fire service. In early 2015 another major incident occurred, resulting in the loss of 3 chalets, once again bringing the issue to the forefront.
CVRD staff assembled a “steering group” that includes the Mt. Washington ownership group, local strata representatives, residential property owners and other user groups to re-examine the opportunities for establishing a fire protection service.
In November 2017, the CVRD board approved the Oyster River Fire Rescue department as the fire protection service provider for the Mount Washington resort community. This was identified as a strategic priority of the CVRD board when the Mount Washington fire protection service was established following a successful referendum in September 2016. Oyster River Fire Rescue has been providing fire protection response to Mount Washington as of December 1, 2017 and construction of a new Mount Washington fire hall is anticipated to begin in late 2018. The Mount Washington community will benefit from this service by having a dedicated and well trained group of volunteers responding to fire incidents.
Following the commitment of feasibility funds and the establishment of a local steering group, the regional district engaged the services of a consultant team to review the current situation and provide a detailed analysis of fire protection service options available for the Mount Washington community.
CVRD staff assembled a “steering group” that included participation by the CVRD, Mount Washington ownership group, local strata representatives, residential property owners and other user groups to re-examine the opportunities for establishing a fire protection service. The 15 members of the steering group provided input, advice and local perspective to the CVRD and the consultants regarding the development of a possible fire service.
The consultant team facilitated a public open house with the broader Mount Washington community in October 2015.Through additional research and interviews with key individuals and agencies, the consultant identified options and recommended the establishment of a fire service with the following features:
A defensive firefighting service provided by way of service agreement with a Comox Valley local government/fire department; construction of a storage building/fire hall at Mount Washington, on land currently owned by the regional district for this purpose; the purchase of Mount Washington fire apparatus and equipment to be stored in the storage building/fire hall, and accessed by the contracted fire department.
Also identified in the report were estimated start-up costs and the estimated taxation impact on the residential properties of Mount Washington.
- Mount Washington fire service study, consultant’s final report
- 2015 Feasibility Study Staff Report
- 2003 Fire Protection Feasibility Assessment
- 2005 Examination of Steps to Establish a Fire Service Program
- 2005 Final Report, Examination of Steps to Establish a Fire Service Program
- 2009 Fire Protection staff report2010 Fire Protection update staff report
- 2010 Fire Protection update staff report
- 2013 Mt. Washington, Integrated Resort Community Plan
Phase 1 – Assess
Review historical information, relevant documents and current resort information (land ownership, population, etc.) Determine if any additional baseline information is necessary. COMPLETED
Phase 2 – Research & Analyze
Explore and compare service options, undertake interviews (Steering Committee; CAOs and/or Fire Chiefs for CVRD, Courtenay, Cumberland and Campbell River; North Island 911), research applicable legislation and service models in other jurisdictions, discuss results with Steering Committee.
Determine if any further details or information (for example, analysis of impact on insurance premiums by sub-contract) needs to be researched before preparing the final report. COMPLETED
Phase 3 – Report
The final step of the study was to summarize the public comments and complete the final report for presentation to the Electoral Areas Services Committee.
An Open House was held, as planned, in the main lodge at Mount Washington in October 2015. All information materials, including a feedback form, were made available online and emailed to the steering group members. Approximately 25 people attended the Open House, and less than 10 feedback forms were received along with four letters/emails. Given the low response rate and nature of the questions/concerns raised about the proposed service, the consultants recommended a modified approach that allowed for a mid-November meeting with the steering group to review the proposed service, discuss other options for lowering the cost of the service, and talk about the possibility of additional consultation in the form of a direct mail-out.