The referendum proposal to replace the North Oyster fire hall and build a new, second fire hall at Coffin Point was defeated by a vote of 354 to 253 during Saturday’s election.
Former North Oyster firefighter Gary Backlund was one of many residents disappointed with the results. He said the aging building needs to be replaced, but after two tries, he is not optimistic that it will be.
“Referendums are expensive to put on,” said Backlund. “We’ve had two kicks at the can and it will be very difficult to come forward again with another proposal.”
An ad-hoc citizens committee was set up in 2009 to review the proposed fire hall replacement after a 2007 proposal to build one fire hall was defeated by the public. Backlund sat on that committee.
Backlund challenges those who worked against the referendum to step up as both sides agree that a new fire hall needs to be built.
“They should come forward now to come to a solution,” Backlund said. “It’s so easy to stop things, but it’s harder to actually go out there and do something about it.”
Backlund added that the only changes that can be done to the defeated proposal would be to change the taxation from parcel tax to assessment tax and canceling the Coffin Point fire hall, but even then, the total cost will still be more due to inflation.
Calls to Mary Marcotte, Cowichan Valley Regional District director for electoral area H and North Oyster Fire Chief Jason De Jong were not returned before press time.