Slocan residents calmly discussed last month's police response in their community during a public meeting Monday night.

COLUMN: Crowd calm while quizzing cops about Slocan shooting

I was impressed with Monday’s public debriefing in Slocan on the shooting of Peter de Groot.

I was impressed with Monday’s public debriefing in Slocan on the shooting of Peter de Groot.

Residents comported themselves well. To be sure, they were highly critical of the RCMP response to the incident and let senior Mounties know, but their comments and questions were almost uniformly thoughtful, measured, and to-the-point.

Following the raucous meeting in Winlaw after the Lemon Creek fuel spill in 2013, I worried things might get heated, especially with RCMP having served notice that they were prevented from saying anything specific about the incident and had to restrict themselves to generalities.

But I needn’t have been concerned. Although his presence was welcome, moderator Gary Wright was never required to calm the crowd.

RCMP brass, to their credit, faced their critics head-on, although true to their warning, they offered little new information about the case. The two senior officers from Kelowna headquarters were particularly taciturn, relying heavily on phrases like “measured response” and “every situation is different.” But I still thought the meeting was a useful airing of some legitimate grievances.

Local Insp. Tom Roy was more plain spoken, particularly in describing his own experiences of being shot at. When bullets are whizzing by, he said, you don’t spend a lot of time considering whether they’re aimed at you or your car.

CHIEF CHOICE: I was a bit surprised the City of Nelson opted not to promote from within in choosing its new fire chief. Not that Len MacCharles’ credentials are in any way lacking — the deputy chief from Calgary has an exemplary resume — but since 1973, the city has only once hired a chief from outside.

MacCharles (pictured at left) will replace Simon Grypma, believed to be the longest-serving firefighter in Nelson’s history at 38 years between auxiliary and full-time service, although his tenure in the top job — a little under seven years — was about average length.

The longest-serving chief was Elwyn Owens at more than 18 years between 1954 and 1973. The shortest-serving was also the first, Samuel Calkin, who only lasted two months in 1897 before being lured away by the siren song of the Klondike.

Local historian and impresario Richard Rowberry will soon launch a new website devoted to the fire department’s history. He gave me a sneak preview and I can say it looks terrific. Watch this space for more details.

NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH: I don’t know what, if anything, to read into this, but glancing at the addresses of the 18 candidates for mayor, council, and school trustee in Nelson reveals the majority live in Uphill. There’s only one candidate from Rosemont, one from Fairview, and one from downtown. Four others live sort of on the fringes between Uphill and Fairview. The remaining 11 call Uphill home.

ALL ACCLAIMED: No election in Silverton this year after all.

Incumbent village councillor Ross Johnson has withdrawn his name, leaving only four candidates for council, who have been acclaimed. They join new mayor Jason Clarke, who was already acclaimed.

New Denver council was similarly re-elected in its entirety without a vote.

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