Regional districts: service withdrawl

Regional District service withdrawal can only be initiated by regional director.

The Lasqueti Island Volunteer Fire Department operates as a “regional service.”
During the past couple of years, PRRD representatives and staff have made multiple statements that the PRRD may take away this regional service.
For example:

  • if by the end of 2018 we are unable to show significant forward movement then I will likely recommend the board consider rescinding this service bylaw. ... I would argue that 9-1-1 service is a valuable service even if you don’t have a local fire/FR service...(PRRD staff Thoms, Nov 2016)
  • "We'll either do it properly or not at all" (PRRD Chair Brabazon, July 2017, Powell River Peak)
  • I think it would not be advisable for Lasqueti to stubbornly insist on Option C if it means rejecting RD support for our Emergency Services.(Merrick, July 2017)
  • “...we are in real danger of losing the service if we carry on dithering about dispatch while all else sits in limbo.(Merrick, Nov 2016)

The Local Government Act lays out the process by which a regional service may be “withdrawn” in Part 10 (Regional Districts: Service Structure and Establishing Bylaws), Division 6 (Dispute Resolution in Relation to Services), sections 361-372. The basic steps include:

  1. To initiate service withdrawal, a participant must give written notice to the Board, to all other participants in the service, and to the Minister.
  2. If there has not been a “service review” in the past 3 years, then a service review must first be done.
  3. The Minister must either require a service review, further negotiations, mediation or arbitration.

Key points, according to my understanding:

(a)  The PRRD cannot start the process to withdraw our fire department service unless the Lasqueti regional director makes the request (as the “participant” representative).

(b)  The service withdrawal process is overseen by the Ministry.  Given that the majority of residents want to keep the regional fire department service -- according to the 2015 PRRD survey (> 90% of responses) -- it seems unlikely that the Minister would take a favourable view if the Lasqueti director were to initiate this process against the wishes of the community.

This is consistent with the consensual and voluntary nature of how regional districts are supposed to provide regional services.

This leaves a question: would our current PRRD director, and any future PRRD directors, publicly commit to NOT initiating a withdrawal of our fire department service without majority community support?  If so, withdrawal of our regional fire department service cannot happen.