Left to right: Bob O'Neal has been promoted to director of forestry

New forestry director, fire chief named

Bob O'Neal and Larry Watkinson have been promoted to head their respective departments

The District of Mission has promoted deputy fire chief Larry Watkinson to lead the department as director of fire and rescue services (fire chief).

The district noted in a press release that the appointment comes after “an extensive national search for a progressive and innovative leader to manage the combined paid-on-call and career fire and rescue team.”

Watkinson has been with the district since 2008. He previously served as program director of fire programs/operations at the Justice Institute of British Columbia, and the deputy fire chief for the Regional District Kootenay Boundary Big White Ski Resort.

Watkinson received the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designation by the Canadian Association of Fire Chief and Institution of Fire Engineers. The association awards the designation to fire officers who have demonstrated excellence and outstanding achievement throughout their professional careers.

In his new role as fire chief for Mission, Watkinson will lead a team in providing fire prevention and education, fire suppression and inspection, and emergency services in the growing community of Mission. He will report directly to the chief administrative officer and is part of the senior management team.

“We’re very pleased to have Chief Watkinson lead our fire and rescue services department,” said CAO Ken Bjorgaard in a release. “His impressive career accomplishments combined with his work experience in the District will provide solid leadership to further strengthen public safety.”


Mission appoints new forestry director

The acting director of forestry Bob O’Neal has officially taken over the department’s top position, the District of Mission announced Wednesday.

O’Neal has been a member of the forestry department since 1990. He has served as its deputy director since the departure of former director Kim Allan several months ago.

O’Neal holds a degree in forestry from the University of British Columbia and is a registered professional forester with the Association of British Columbia Forest Professionals.

As the director of forestry, O’Neal is responsible for the management of Mission’s forestry department, including integrating the biological and economic productivity of the local forest while balancing the needs for timber, wildlife habitat, watershed protection, recreation and education.

O’Neal reports directly to the chief administrative officer and is part of the senior management team at the District of Mission.

“We are extremely pleased to have Bob as our Director of Forestry,” said Bjorgaard. “I am impressed by his management style and excellent working relationship with staff and am confident that he will continue to excel in this role.”

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