Whistler appoints new fire chief 

Council briefs: Liquid Waste plan update endorsed

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DAN TOULGOET/GLACIER MEDIA - HAIL TO THE CHIEF Former City of Vancouver fire chief John McKearney will assume command of the Whistler Fire Rescue Service next month
  • PHOTO BY DAN TOULGOET/Glacier media
  • HAIL TO THE CHIEF Former City of Vancouver fire chief John McKearney will assume command of the Whistler Fire Rescue Service next month

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has a new fire chief.

The municipality announced the hiring of former City of Vancouver fire chief John McKearny in a press release on Oct. 16.

"We are very pleased to welcome John to our organization as he begins the Whistler Fire Rescue Service chapter of his career," said RMOW chief administrative officer Mike Furey in the release. "John brings extensive experience in firefighting work as well as organizational leadership and will be a great asset to the team."

McKearney comes to Whistler from the City of Vancouver, where he started as a floor firefighter and worked his way up the ranks, serving as lieutenant on the rescue squad and training officer before being promoted to deputy chief and then fire chief.

McKearney is a member of both the Institute of Fire Engineers and the Metro Fire Chiefs Association. He served as past director of the Fire Chiefs Association of BC and the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, and was part of the British Columbia Fire Commissioner's Diversity Taskforce. His resume also includes earning an Executive Chief Fire Officer designation though Harvard University's Senior Fellowship Fire Executive Program.

McKearney will assume command next month, replacing outgoing fire chief Geoff Playfair, who announced his retirement in May.

"I would like to thank Geoff for his years of service," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden in the release. "Please join me in wishing Geoff continued success, and welcoming John to his new role (with) the Whistler Fire Rescue Service. Our community is lucky to have such dedicated and talented individuals contributing to matters of public safety."

The fire chief reports to the general manager, corporate and community services and is accountable for organizing and commanding firefighting operations and other emergency situations as well as supervising the overall administration and operation of the fire rescue service. The chief provides the RMOW with a comprehensive and cost-effective fire service and emergency response program.


Also at the Oct. 16 meeting, council endorsed the RMOW's Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP) update for 2018.

The LWMP is a long-term strategy for how wastewater is collected, treated and disposed of in the resort, with the goal of protecting water quality, public health and the environment.

The 2018 update replaces a 2004 version of the same document. The update is considered a minor one, with a more comprehensive amendment planned for 2022 (that will require much more stakeholder engagement).

Delaying the major amendment makes sense, as it will allow the RMOW time to update its Water Conservation and Supply and Integrated Stormwater Plans, complete the Official Community Plan, discuss and itemize larger capital projects and review future Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) technologies.

"The WWTP doesn't need an upgrade at this point, but if regulations continue to tighten or change that may warrant a look at future technologies, so we want to be prepared for that," said utilities group manager Gillian Woodward in a presentation to council.

The plan includes a table of related projects in the budget, along with estimated costs and timelines, under eight different headings: Update the LWMP; upgrade WWTP; environmental monitoring and modeling; upgrade sewer collection system; water conservation and wastewater flow reduction; biosolids management; source control and; storm water management.

Two of the biggest upcoming water projects noted in the LWMP are $3.6 million for sewer service to 19 properties on the west side of Alta Lake (no timeline) and $4 million for replacement upgrades to the Alta Vista system (2020-2023, with design work already underway).

"These items are all within the existing capital budgets, so that was another reason the ministry considered this to be an update," Woodward said.


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