Why look beyond the region for expertise?

Does the regional district of Okanagan Similkameen need to seek opinion outside of the region?

On April 18, the regional district board agreed to seek taxpayer approval for a 1.6 million dollar upgrade to the regional district’s 911 emergency system upgrade.

Apparently several board members are also dissatisfied with the consultant’s report that put two recommendations for infrastructure upgrades – at 1.6 million dollars and 2.1 million dollars respectively – before the board last December.

To satisfy the dissent, the board also agreed to hire a “third party expert to review the consultant’s report and go over it with directors.”

Chief Administrative Officer Bill Newell suggested that the  expert will likely be a “fire chief from outside the district who has knowledge of communications.”

Is it possible that the regional district could be making yet another mistake in their search for 911 upgrade options by once again looking outside the region for “experts”?

Why does the regional district think it needs to go outside the district to get its answers?

Surely a committee of interested regional and municipal chiefs could provide better advice, more suited to the unique radio and internet needs of the regional district’s various fire departments.

A problem that has been exacerbating this issue for several months  has been a perceived lack of consultation on the part of the regional district to its member fire departments.

It’s difficult to understand how a fire chief outside the region would be better able to review local options than would a consortium of long time, local fire chiefs.

Perhaps it’s time for the board to look a little closer to the expertise in their own backyard and bring the region’s departments more fully into the decision making process.

We are talking about a large sum of taxpayer’s money here – the assistance the board needs to make an informed decision might have been right in front of them all along. The board needs to take the high road and investigate the possibility.