Mike Slater passed away on February 12, 2017.
In 1990 the head keeper Mike Slater and his wife Carol came to the station. Carol in particular held strong views about the need to live in harmony with the nature that truly surrounds Race Rocks. The Slaters worked hard to protect the reserve and assist researchers. These volunteer activities fall far outside their regular lightstation duties. During the early 1990’s the ominous signs of the first radical change at Race Rocks became apparent as the Coast Guard experimented with automated equipment to operate the station. In the spring of 1994 the first announcements about de-staffing of lightstations on the British Columbia Coast were made. The decision was surprising and unpopular. In September, 1995, the Minister of Fisheries, Brian Tobin and the MP for Victoria, David Anderson paid a visit to the island and are shown here talking with Mike and Carol Slater and Pearson College faculty and students. Most surprising, a few months later was the announcement that Race Rocks was on the list of the seven stations to be de-staffed in the first round of budget cuts. Race Rocks was to be closed on March 1st 1997. Mike and Carol watched as the last of the automated equipment was installed and a maintenance crew measured the windows of their house for shutters. They might as well have measured the keepers for a box too as the end of a way of life would be coming to Race Rocks.
TEMPORARY REPRIEVE, 1997:
For the time being Race Rocks and its keepers won a reprieve. In an emergency two year agreement Pearson College undertook to operate the facility in cooperation with the Coast Guard, as an education centre. A private donor agreed to cover the salary costs for the Slaters who were invited to stay on at Race Rocks by Pearson College. The College continued negotiations with the Provincial Government, the actual owners of the land, to operate the facility on a long term basis. Twenty years later, Lester B. Pearson College is still managing the island on a long term lease from BC Parks. We are determined to make the island self-sufficient. So with that in mind, the Race Rocks endowment fund has been set up for operating racerocks.