qathet Regional District: A case study of democratic process at the qRD

How Well did E-DAC Serve our Fire Dep't and Community?

In the Sept. 2018 issue of Our Isle and Times, Merrick asked “people to reflect on how well the EDAC committee served our beleaguered dispatchers and our Fire Department.” This is a good and relevant question and, as the former chair of the Emergency Dispatch Advisory Committee (E-DAC), I thought that it would be useful to provide some background facts and current status.

  • E-DAC was created by the qathet Regional District (qRD) in early 2016 to explore, evaluate and recommend solutions for the dispatch system used by the Lasqueti Island Volunteer Fire Department (LIVFD).
  • There were 9 members: 5 were members of the LIVFD (including the Fire Chief and head dispatcher), and 2 were former Fire Chiefs.
  • E-DAC met 18 times over 10 months, held two public forums, researched options, and contributed hundreds of hours of volunteer effort.
  • The qRD provided no budget for E-DAC, and the approx. $1,000 expenses for travel and product evaluation were covered by donations.
  • E-DAC identified the values and interests of the community (from public forums), the LIVFD (from a dep’t meeting) and qRD (from their terms for the committee).
  • E-DAC spent considerable effort to design local solutions that balanced the interests of the community, LIVFD and qRD. The E-DAC evaluated and compared the current system, the North Island 9-1-1 system and 3 locally designed solutions.
  • At the well-attended 2nd public forum, the participants were in unanimous support for a local solution (Option C). At a meeting, LIVFD dispatchers agreed unanimously to support this option. E-DAC subsequently voted unanimously to recommend Option C.
  • E-DAC delivered a comprehensive 300+ page report in Dec. 2016 that met the terms set by the qRD (see

The E-DAC final report included 4 recommendations to the Regional Board:

  1. To support LIVFD implementing the locally-designed Option C.
  2. To support LIVFD creating a fire dep’t support committee to allow members of the public to help the LIVFD Fire Chief and dep’t members.
  3. To support LIVFD completing and deploying the Incident and Resource Locator Tool, which had such strong support that E-DAC voted unanimously that this tool should be adopted with any dispatch system.
  4. To lobby Telus to ensure reliable telephone service.

The Fire Chief has initiated the fire dep’t support committee. So far, it has helped with some reporting and the picnic, and it will evolve as more people volunteer to help.

Further GPS data collection is being planned to advance the mapping tool, which was considered to be critical to the Lasqueti dispatch system by the expert hired by qRD to do an operational review of Option C.

After receiving the E-DAC report in Dec. 2016, the qRD Board has taken the following actions: A legal opinion. Then an operational review (that did not include a site visit to Lasqueti). Then a 2nd legal opinion (to which I was invited, but denied after I travelled to Powell River). Then a 2nd operational review by the same expert (including a site visit to Lasqueti), which resulted in a positive report on Option C. Then a 3rd legal opinion in Dec 2017.

Since Dec. 2017, there has been absolute silence on this issue from the qRD.

The E-DAC completed its term and report in Dec. 2016. The qRD has had the E-DAC report and recommendations for all of 2017 and 2018.

In my view, the members on the E-DAC provided a commendable and honourable service to our dispatchers and our Fire Department, and to the Lasqueti community as a whole, while respecting and trying to work cooperatively with the qRD. We followed an open, consultative and respectful process that treated the community, LIVFD and qRD as partners to seek solutions that best met all interests. The E-DAC demonstrated how our community can unite if a good process is followed.