Spa­niard’s Bay re­build­ing

Town is­sues apol­ogy, makes call for fire­fight­ing ap­pli­ca­tions

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cbn­com­pass.ca

The mayor of the em­bat­tled Town of Spa­niard’s Bay be­lieves the pub­lic apol­ogy to Brenda Sey­mour is a step in the right di­rec­tion.

Tony Men­chions told The Com­pass last week he be­lieves this will lead to a re­prieve in ten­sions that en­gulfed his town fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of at least 20 fire­fight­ers and Coun. Sheri Collins, who was the li­ai­son to the depart­ment, two weeks ago.

“It took longer than we all wanted,” said Men­chions “We’re go­ing to do the right thing. We have to start some­where.”

The right thing in this case is adopt­ing a zero tol­er­ance pol­icy when it comes to ha­rass­ment of any kind and a pledge to make sure town em­ploy­ees, as well as vol­un­teers op­er­ate in “a safe, re­spect­ful and in­clu­sive en­vi­ron­ment.”

“On be­half of the Spa­niard’s Bay town coun­cil, I apol­o­gize to Brenda Sey­mour for in­stances of sex­ual ha­rass­ment which she has en­dured. We do not con­done, nor tol­er­ate any such be­hav­ior,” the town said Jan. 26 in a news re­lease signed by Men­chions.

In the week fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tions, al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment and a mis­man­age­ment of the depart­ment came from Sey­mour, a fire­fighter and a coun­cil­lor in the com­mu­nity.

“Coun­cil prom­ises a safe and re­spect­ful en­vi­ron­ment and sup­ports gen­der equity,” states the re­lease writ­ten with help from the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Affairs, MHA Pam Par­sons and the fire com­mis­sioner’s of­fice.

At the same time Spa­niard’s Bay sent out the re­lease, a vet­eran fire­fighter spoke out about the al­le­ga­tions.

Ross Snow was a 13-year mem­ber of the depart­ment in a Face­book post, Snow ad­dressed the clip, stat­ing that “jokes and com­ments were made by all. In no way was it di­rected to Brenda in any way.”

At the con­clu­sion of his post, Snow sug­gests that the prin­ci­ple peo­ple in­volved, in­clud­ing Sey­mour should step aside un­til the “al­le­ga­tions and the le­gal pro­ceed­ings end. Upon com­ple­tion of those mat­ters then shall any or all per­sons be dealt with ac­cord­ingly.”

Sey­mour told The Com­pass she “ac­cepts” the town’s apol­ogy.

“It ex­on­er­ates me in the pub­lic eye to some ex­tent,” said Sey­mour. “I’m quite pleased with it.”

When con­tacted by The Com­pass, she ad­dressed pieces of Snow’s post. She said her hus­band, Martin, was in Al­berta when the clip was shown.

“They tried to deal with it, but they didn’t elim­i­nate the prob­lem,” said Sey­mour.

There were also al­le­ga­tions of ha­rass­ment lev­eled at Sey­mour in re­la­tion to the res­ig­na­tion of Collins. Sey­mour de­nied this and noted some state­ments were taken out of con­text.

Mean­while, the town is look­ing to re­build its shat­tered fire depart­ment and is is­su­ing a call for ap­pli­ca­tions from in­ter­ested mem­bers of the com­mu­nity. For­mer mem­bers are wel­come to ap­ply, al­though they will need to fill out an ap­pli­ca­tion. The dead­line to do so is 4 p.m. on Feb. 12.

“We have to build from the ashes,” said Men­chions.

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Brenda Sey­mour (right) speaks with sup­port­ers af­ter a re­cent meet­ing be­tween the Town of Spa­niard’s Bay and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Affairs.

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