Mayne Island Residents and Ratepayers Association February 2011 Newsletter

Fire Hall Referendum Special Issue

Greetings MIRRA Members,

As you are no doubt aware, The Mayne Island Improvement District has scheduled a referendum for March 12th to borrow up to $3,400,000 to build a new fire hall. MIRRA was founded to interact with the various levels of gov- ernment over such issues on behalf of residents and ratepayers. Besides a monthly executive meeting, the direc- tors are in regular contact with each other, sharing information and considering responses to a range of situations. MIRRA may sponsor a single-issue forum, lobby for attention to a pressing need, and update the member- ship and the community at large through a newsletter or submission to the Mayneliner. The Board operates mostly by consensus, and feels it has a sense of the membership from emails, phone calls, and regular encounters in the community.

We are writing this because a member has protested not being informed that the directors have decided to take on the “NO” Committee function in the fire hall referendum process. Information became available to us in its own time, and deadlines for applying for committee status with the referendum Returning Officer made it impractical to call a special general meeting to consider the position. We assumed the underlying reason to take this action was embodied in MIRRA’s constitution (MIRRA’s purposes, actually our constitution, are printed on the reverse of your membership card).

MIRRA was contacted by member Doug McNeill with a proposal to review his analysis of the fire hall project and referendum question to borrow up to 3.4 million dollars. We found it a persuasive argument that the Improvement District’s proposal needs serious re-thinking, and include it here, along with MIRRA’s recommendation to vote NO on the referendum question, both submitted to the February Mayneliner. Both documents make the case for build- ing and funding a new fire hall without an unnecessarily high tax burden on the community over twenty years.

The No Committee mailed over 1,000 copies of the two letters to off-island property owners who might not see them in the Mayneliner. We felt they deserved information to help them make an informed decision in this referendum. Costs of the mail-out were covered by membership fees ($10/individual) and generous donations. If you would like to support these activities, please consider renewing your membership, due as of the October 2010 AGM. Donations may be made to Mayne Island Residents and Ratepayers Association. As we are not a registered charitable society, we do not issue tax receipts.

The invitation is extended once again to members to communicate with us, either in person, or via and to consider joining the board. Our mailing address is MIRRA, S1 – C55, Mayne, BC, V0N2J0


Mayne Island Residents and Ratepayers Association Board of Directors:

Dave Lindquist
Colleen Ming
Wayne Ming
Barry Wilks
Bob McKinnon

Mayne Island Residents and Ratepayers Association and the 3.4 million dollar Fire Hall Referendum

Tax increases are never popular, most especially during times of economic uncertainty. But sometimes they are for a purpose that must be accomplished near term, and not put off. MIRRA is unaware of any serious opposition to the need to replace the present fire hall with one that is disaster-proof.

The Fire Hall Task Force has produced a design to meet the requirements of the Fire Department and thus the disaster security needs of the community, but we think that the process employed did not give adequate consideration to more affordable alternative solutions, such as that put forth in Doug McNeill’s letter appearing elsewhere in this Mayneliner.

The maximum borrowing sum of $3,400,000 is calculated to provide a wooden building, being the recommendation of consultants retained by the Improvement District. Recent steel fire hall construction on Saturna has demonstrated that such projects can be com- pleted for far less than the M.I. Improvement District is asking for. We are told that the decision on building type can be revisited, but doubt that there would be much incentive to do so if the maximum amount is approved. MIRRA arranged to have a representa- tive of a locally owned steel building company present cost information relevant to Mayne’s project. MIRRA is not an agent for any particular construction company, but we do appreciate the alternative information they have provided. In any case, the Im- provement District doesn’t seem much interested, but we suspect taxpayers will be.

At the recent Task Force information meeting, members of the public were clearly un- comfortable with being asked to approve a spending proposal without knowing in ad- vance whether they were to be billed by a parcel tax, or by a tax on assessment as rec- ommended by the Task Force. The parcel tax would impact every property equally, whereas a tax on assessment would see some taxpayers paying many times more (as much as $2,500 annually) than others for the same service. Handling this burden fairly need not involve punitively taxing owners of handed down family properties, some of whom are living in otherwise modest circumstances. And in the absence of a decision on taxation method, voters must assume the worst-case scenario.

In closing, MIRRA reminds referendum voters that the present proposal represents a 20 year funding commitment at a time when economic trends are dubious and financial stresses may not have yet peaked. It behooves all levels of government to manage ex- penditures prudently, and with obligatory care towards the people they serve. If the new Fire Hall requires another go-round, hopefully the next Task Force’s revised terms of reference will make a higher priority of the interests of Mayne Island taxpayers.

While understanding that delaying a new Fire Hall is a major disappointment within the community, we recommend a NO vote on this 3.4 million dollar question.

Date: February 2011
To: Mayne Island Voters
From: Doug McNeill
Subject: Mayne Island Fire Hall Referendum March 12, 2011

The Fire Hall referendum asks if we agree to spend up to $3,400,000 for a new Fire Hall. Payable over 20 years. I am not a fan of long term debt. Subscribing to long term debt would encourage me to overspend. I find ‘living within my means’ to be far more palatable. The concept of ‘living within your means’ is very simple.

A) Buy only what you need.
B) Pay for it.
C) If you can’t pay for it now, but definitely need it now, plan to retire the debt as soon as possible.

A small group of Islanders undertaking a $3,400,000 debt is a heavy load. It becomes $5,654,376 over the 20 years. That looks to me like too large a request for our small community. That is certainly “all our eggs in one basket” for a very long time. What about our other community funded needs?

I had heard of the new Saturna Island Fire Hall. What I found difficult to understand is how Saturna Island built their Fire Hall for about ONE THIRD of what we are being asked to spend.

I took it upon myself to delve into this issue.

I had become aware of Permasteel, the firm that built the new Saturna Island Fire Hall. Saturna wrote a very strong letter of recommendation discussing their contract with Permasteel. Saturna’s Fire Hall came in at $1,200,000. Some land costs are included in this figure. The contract was for two buildings, collectively 9,100 sq. ft.

I wanted to get a second opinion of Permasteel. I found another Permasteel Fire Hall on the mainland, so off I went to pay them a visit. I met with the Fire Chief. I didn’t discuss costs because he revealed that the building was 13 years old. He also mentioned that it tested well in a recent municipal building survey. In summary he said “It suits the purpose”. That says it all for me: “SUITS THE PURPOSE” can be added to “AFFORDABILITY” as criteria for our Fire Hall.

Permasteel has been building steel structures for 57 years. All types of steel buildings. They are leaders in the field. Vancouver based. They have an impressive portfolio. The Garrison Curling Club in Calgary impressed me. Quite a fashionable social component adjacent to the large ice surface. I was also impressed with the fact that Shell Oil chose a Permasteel building to house their corporate airplanes, complete with executive offices, departure lounge etc.


I called Permasteel. I made it clear that I was calling on a personal basis. They have been here on Mayne and have seen our Fire Hall plans. They couldn’t discuss costs with me, as I well understood, however they told me that their common experience for similar structures was about $175/sq.ft.

I needed to see the MIID Fire Hall plans again. Yes, the plans looked well beyond “Suits the purpose” to me. The ceiling is supported by glue – laminated beams, framed by a surround of many sky lights. Could that ceiling be any more expensive? I think it could be reasonably assumed that the entire building is designed to that standard. A long way from my “Suits the purpose” criteria .

Total Cost Total Sq. Ft. $ Per Sq. Ft.
Saturna Fire Hall $1,200,000 9,100 $132.00
Permasteel Fire Hall Common Experience $175.00
Mayne Island Proposed Fire Hall $3,638,000 9,778 $372.00

I have prepared this basic cost comparison for your review.

MIID Permasteel
Budget $3,638,000 $2,200,000
Reserves ($237,000) ($237,000)
Balance $3,401,000 $1,963,000
Loan principal $3,400,000 $1,963,000
Interest 5% 5%
Years 20 9
Monthly $22,438 $22,608
Yearly $269,256 $271,296
Times years $5,385,120 $2,441,664
5% collection fee $269,256 $122,083
Grand total $5,654,376 $2,563,747
Debt avoided $3,090,629

The MIID column is the proposed Fire Hall. The Permasteel column represents my “Suits the purpose” Fire Hall. The budget figure I have used in the Permasteel column is $2,200,000. I have arrived at this number with the fol- lowing in mind.

$2,200,000 is twice the cost of the Saturna Fire Hall. The slightly smaller structure, and exclusion of their land costs, makes this comparison equitable.

$2,200,000 builds in a 29% reserve from Permasteel’s common experience. This is $225/sq.ft., up from $175/sq.ft.

Interesting numbers.



Here are six very important things to keep in mind.

The fire department needs a new building. Lots of room to park the trucks, firefighting gear, firefighting equipment, administration offices, storage, training facilities, etc.

It is the Mayne Island taxpayer’s responsibility to provide the firefighters with this facility. It must be affordable. It can’t tie us up for too long because there are other community needs worthy of our support. The principle need of the structure is to keep gear and trucks dry, and at the ready. An industrial steel building, “Suits the purpose”.

The question on the referendum is very straight forward. “Do you approve the borrowing of UP TO $3,400,000 for the New Fire Hall?” Yes or no. KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE END NUMBERS. $5,654,376 compared to $2,563,747. As you can see I’m a supporter of the “DOWN TO” position.

The only way back to the drawing board is for you to VOTE NO on March 12th.

Most Mayne Island voters live “Off Island”. They are hard for me to reach. If you agree with my views expressed here, please discuss this letter with them. Your weekender neighbours need this information to cast an informed vote. Mail in ballots should be out to them now so it is important to pass this information on promptly.

Mayne Island Residents and Ratepayers Association January Newsletter

Deer Community Forum: On Friday January 14, there will be a community forum to explore and discuss the ever growing issue of deer on Mayne Island.

As we all are aware, Mayne is home to both native Black Tail deer and imported European Fallow deer. With no resident predators and a hunting ban, the Black Tail population has expanded will beyond the capability of the islands ecosystem. The introduced Fallow deer population has become increasingly aggressive, only exasperating the overall impact on the island.

From a human point of view, farmers and backyard gardeners are being impacted daily. Vehicle collisions are common on many islands. As well, deer are a known host of the ticks responsible for Lyme Disease and are potentially the most broad based source of EColi contamination on the islands.

The forum is intended to identify the extent of these and other issues as well as develop the initial mechanism to explore solutions. The forum panel will consist of representatives from all levels of Government, local Conservatories, Farmers, RCMP and other stakeholders. All residents are welcome to attend both for information and to contribute experiences and ideas to the forum. We would like to express our appreciation to our MLA and Environment Minister Murray Coell for his efforts in supporting this forum.

As the issue is not unique to Mayne, this forum likely will be used both as a tool and a template for similar forums on other islands. The key is to define clear and achievable objectives and developing to tools to achieve these objectives.

Firehall Replacement: In November MIRRA hosted a technical forum with representatives from Permasteel. The intent of the meeting was to clarify that a steel building would meet all requirements of the BC Building code and would be appropriate for consideration as an economical and proven building technology for the fire hall replacement. The meeting was very successful and well received by all in attendance.

Memberships: A reminder that memberships are due if you have not renewed since October.

Mayne Island Residents and Ratepayers Association December 2010 Newsletter

Mayne Island Residents and Ratepayers Association As 2010 draws to a close it is both a time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the year ahead. Often times MIRRA has been accused of having a ‘hidden agenda’ or only being concerned with one issue. In fact the organization has been active in many parts of the island, trying its best to represent the interests of residents and ratepayers as a whole. MIRRA 2009/2010 accomplishments:

Initiated community awareness on the pending loss of RCMP services, coordinated meetings, petitions and lobbied government. MIRRA actions helped to initiate a review of the RCMP actions

by the Solicitor General and additional funding was put into the provincial budget to insure retention of RCMP services.

Set up a liaison meeting with the Ministry of Highways and MainRoads to address community concerns with regard to maintenance and paving.

Organized a community meeting with BC Ferries to discuss future plans, community concerns and open dialog with the island. Subsequently, MIRRA coordinated protests of the deck allo- cation scheme that would have severely impacted islanders.

Continued efforts to open up access with the Miners Bay dock.

Assisted landowners in finding alternatives to the Riparian Regulations being imposed by the Is- lands Trust that would have inappropriately impacted property rights on the island.

Provided monitoring at MIID, Islands Trust, BCFS and other public meetings.

Initiated an Economic Development Committee to encourage business activities on island.

Found significant discrepancies with the Fire Hall referendum; contacted the Provincial Govern- ment who investigated, intervened and stopped the referendum.

For 2011, we have many issues on the island radar. These include the upcoming referendum for the Fire Hall, major paving planned by the Ministry of Highways, continuing issues with BC Ferries and the scheduled Improvement District, CRD and Islands Trust elections. MIRRA will be active in distributing information and providing a voice for the membership on these and other topics. We are in the process of establishing a web- site that will help to disseminate information in a more efficient and accurate manner to all islanders. As well, MIRRA has several Community Forums planned for 2011:

Deer Population BC Ferries RCMP Saturna Fire Hall team presentation Parks Canada

CRD and Islands Trust all candidates meetings

Memberships are what support all these efforts. In one way, the organization is financially supported by members. However, membership also translates to real numbers when talking to Government. The more members MIRRA has, the more government bodies can accurately gauge the overall community support for our efforts. For those whose membership is expiring (ie: If you have not paid membership after October 1,

Mayne Island Residents and Ratepayers Association September Newsletter

Queen of Nanaimo: August 3rd saw Mayne Island at it’s finest in the aftermath of the acci- dent when the ferry Queen of Nanaimo attempted to move us closer to our friends on Saturna. The response from our Ambulance Crew, Mayne Island Fire, Mayne Island Emergency Services, Southern Gulf Islands Emergency Program, RCMP, BCFS staff and count- less others in a clear, coordinated manner were a strong indication that, as a community, we are in good hands. This extended to the crew of the Queen of Cumberland who, on the mid-day sailing, took on all of the evacuees from the Nanaimo and the Mayne Island traffic. The crew had free beverage stations set up, kept everyone informed and ensured a speedy unloading at Swartz Bay. Well done.

BC Ferries: August 3 also saw BC Ferries community forum with regard to the proposed deck allocation on the 11:05 sailing of the Mayne Queen. Despite the previous claims that no concerns had been raised about this proposal, 100% of those in attendance were not in favour of this idea. The message was received and the feedback will go back to BCFS. It was also chilling to learn from our local Ferry Advisory Committee that the BCFS were not aware that Mayne Island had experienced any vehicle overloads at Miners Bay in recent years. It was requested that the terminal staff record all vehicles turned back due to over- loading. If you are turned back at the booth because of overload, please request that you be recorded as an overload vehicle – these numbers are critical for planning by BCFS. Overloads are not a daily occurrence, but they do happen. Pender Island records every ve- hicle that does not make it aboard a sailing and uses this information to lobby for more sail- ings; we need this same information to insure BCFS is fully aware of traffic issues on all islands.

Fire Hall: The Improvement District continues to make progress with the proposed Fire Hall replacement. The September 4 public information meeting has been delayed.

MIRRA AGM: Mayne Island Residents and Ratepayers Association is having its Annual General Meeting on October 11th, 2010, 7 pm at the Community Centre. Membership re- newals are due at that time, available at the door: $10. If you care about the issues that MIRRA addresses, please attend, and further, consider serving on the board. Nominations from the floor are encouraged and welcome. No other community organization addresses the range of issues that MIRRA does. Many of you have let us know that you care, and ap- preciate the efforts. Your support and energies would be highly valued.

Submitted by the MIRRA executive on behalf of its members.

Mayne Island Residents and Ratepayers Association August 2010 Newsletter


Human beings are perhaps one of the most destructive creatures ever to inhabit our planet; we have created horrible, lasting impacts for centuries. However human beings also have the wonderful ability to adapt, evolve and prosper with each challenge. We have dealt with climate change for thousands of years, survived floods and drought, world wars, the atomic age and BC Ferries. With each impossible situation we learn and move forward.

In recent months our island has seen several events that have both divided us and brought us closer together. It is important that we put each event into perspective and work together to find solutions. As in any small commu- nity, there are rumours, half-truths and sometimes outright disinformation that emanates resulting in conflict and negative feelings that do nothing to enhance our island home. Many of us tend to be reactionary, jumping into the debate in an effort to protect us from what we consider to be the ‘enemy’.

Communication can solve many problems; we strongly encourage each individual islander to attend public meet- ings, talk with your neighbors and get both sides of any issue prior to passing judgment. In the coming months we anticipate some critical items to be on the collective islands agenda. It is of utmost im- portance that each of us embraces the process and support what we believe to be in the best interest of the is- land as a whole. At times this means setting aside a personal concern in order to advance the greater good, At times this means challenging what your peers endorse. At times it means simply getting involved and working with others to build a ‘better mousetrap’.

The primary message is each of us should work at taking the high road and take any negative energy and turn it into positive energy. Please put forward your concern, opinion or suggestion in a positive manner. This is too good and too small of a community to survive endless bouts of finger pointing, threats and raised voices.

BC Ferries

We anticipate BC Ferries will be holding a community forum on island shortly to address some upcoming changes to service to and from the island. The main proposal is to restrict traffic off Mayne on the 11:05am sailing to Swartz Bay to 24 passenger vehicles and not allowing some types of commercial vehicles on this trip. There is also an ill-conceived initiative from B C Ferries to eliminate the printed schedule in 2011, we are hoping this will be reviewed and seen as being not in the best interest of users. There are also some minor adjustments being made to the morning and afternoon sailings of the Cumberland as the vessel is struggling to keep the current schedule.

Islands Trust

A grassroots initiative from Hornby Island has gained much momentum in recent weeks. Over 1000 people have signed an online petition (Complete with eye-opening comments) requesting the Provincial Government review the Islands Trust Act. The strong sentiment amongst many is each major island becomes an ‘Island Municipality’, following the lead of Bowen Island 11 years ago. Currently each island is subjected to governance by the Islands Trust, local Improvement Districts, Regional Districts, Provincial and Federal Governments with many gaps be- tween jurisdictions leaving residents no place to turn for guidance or support. Naturally each level of Government has their hands out for tax dollars that leave our island economies never to return. The coming months could see a review underway and potential (positive) critical changes to our governance structure and enabling local deci- sions to be made on a local level.

You can find the online petition at: Or simply type in ‘Islands Trust Petition’ into your internet search engine and look for ‘Review the 35 year old Is- lands Trust Act’.

Submitted by the MIRRA executive on behalf of its members.