Residents of Mesachie Lake are going to have a very difficult decision to make.
We hope that everyone can at least go into the process with an open mind.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District, in a controversial move, fired the volunteer chief and deputy chief of the Mesachie Lake Fire Department this spring, and temporarily discontinued the department’s operations. Operations have since resumed, but that wasn’t the end of the story.
The CVRD also conducted a review of the department, and has come back with a number of options for its future. They include closing the Mesachie Lake department and contracting the Honeymoon Bay department to provide fire coverage, closing the Mesachie department and getting coverage from Lake Cowichan’s department, scrapping both the Honeymoon Bay and Mesachie departments and creating a new integrated department, replacing the fire station and major equipment at Mesachie Lake, or keeping the status quo.
There are concerns that the aging fire hall and equipment are putting residents and firefighters alike at risk. So the final option doesn’t seem to be feasible. But the others are worthy of some serious thought.
When news of that the chief and deputy chief had been let go, a group of Mesachie Lake residents stated they had major concerns about simply being under the protection of another, more distant firehall. So it seems likely the suggestions that Honeymoon Bay or Lake Cowichan simply take over fire protection services for the area will not be favoured by the community. There’s the further complication that Mesachie Lake firefighters are also first responders, particularly for incidents on the Pacific Marine Circle Route. This will have to be taken into consideration. Not all firefighters operate in the capacity of first responders.
But the community (and this actually applies to a number of communities in the Cowichan Valley) will have to look to the long-term future of their fire protection, and take into account the fact that small departments are having increasing difficulty filling out their rosters. Particularly having enough bodies available to respond to emergency calls during the day can be a challenge, as even willing volunteers often commute for work and can’t head to the hall at a moment’s notice during the work day.
Perhaps merging a couple of halls wouldn’t be the worst suggestion if it means a more secure future. It’s a tough call only Mesachie residents can make.