Spa­niard’s Bay looks to scrap fire de­part­ment re­view

Vote to take place at next coun­cil meet­ing, two weeks af­ter by­elec­tion

The Compass - - NEWS - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON edi­tor@CB­N­com­pass.ca

To the con­ster­na­tion of many who sat through a two-hour pub­lic meet­ing in Spa­niard’s Bay, the town coun­cil an­nounced last Mon­day they’re look­ing at ax­ing a re­view the fire de­part­ment.

Deputy mayor Paul Brazil broke the news shortly be­fore the meet­ing was ad­journed, read­ing from a page-long state­ment be­fore an­nounc­ing he was mak­ing a no­tice of mo­tion to re­scind a mo­tion adopted last De­cem­ber. That mo­tion said the town would use hu­man re­sources firm Knights­bridge Robert­son Sur­rette to con­duct an in­de­pen­dent re­view of the de­part­ment.

There was im­me­di­ate chat­ter in the au­di­ence of about 40 res­i­dents af­ter Brazil an­nounced the news, with one per­son au­di­bly heard ut­ter­ing the word “Cow­ards” af­ter the deputy mayor fin­ished speak­ing.

Ear­lier in the same meet­ing Mon­day night, the chair of the newly-formed Spa­niard’s BayTil­ton Cit­i­zens Com­mit­tee en­gaged Mayor Tony Men­chions on the ex­act same is­sue. Robert Lun­dri­gan ad­dressed coun­cil at the pre­vi­ous meet­ing held in March, and did so again Mon­day, re­quest­ing an up­date on the mat­ters that com­mit­tee wants coun­cil to ad­dress.

When pressed specif­i­cally about coun­cil’s in­ten­tions on the re­view of the fire de­part­ment, Men­chions didn’t show his hand, sim­ply stat­ing the town could move to re­scind or move for­ward with it.

Lun­dri­gan ar­gued the prov­ince’s Hu­man Rights Act is per­ti­nent to the town’s sit­u­a­tion with the de­part­ment. He said as a pub­lic body with an em­ployer-staff re­la­tion with re­spect to its de­part­ment, the town has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to clear the air. Lun­dri­gan also stated it’s a li­a­bil­ity is­sue for coun­cil.

Prior to the town adopt­ing the De­cem­ber mo­tion, Coun. Brenda Sey­mour brought up an al­le­ga­tion of sex­ual ha­rass­ment re­lated to her in­volve­ment with the fire de­part­ment. A sep­a­rate in­ci­dent brought to light by Sey­mour made fur­ther head­lines in Jan­uary, right around the same time most of the town’s fire­fight­ers re­signed from the de­part­ment at a coun­cil meet­ing in sol­i­dar­ity with for­mer coun­cil li­ai­son Sheri Collins.

Collins re­signed from her seat that same night, and a by- elec­tion is be­ing held April 18 to re­fill it. She ac­cused Sey­mour of ha­rass­ing her, an al­le­ga­tion Sey­mour has de­nied.

In the pre­pared state­ment, Brazil noted Oc­cu­pa­tion Health and Safety came to coun­cil last fall with a list of non-com­pli­ance is­sues re­lated to the de­part­ment. He said coun­cil heard about fur­ther is­sues in­volv­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion, train­ing, ad­min­is­tra­tion and equip­ment.

In speak­ing with the town’s le­gal coun­sel and of­fi­cials from the De­part­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs and Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices NL, Brazil said the town felt it was in a po­si­tion to re­struc­ture the de­part­ment.

As for en­gag­ing the HR firm, Brazil said it was felt noth­ing would be gained from that en­deav­our to aid the town’s re­struc­tur­ing plans. Knights­bridge Robert­son Sur­rette’s ser­vices would re­port­edly cost $3,500-$4,000.

Brazil went on to note the new fire de­part­ment is up and run­ning and ha­rass­ment poli­cies are un­der re­view and will soon be adopted by coun­cil. The town has also im­ple­mented a num­ber of rec­om­men­da­tions from the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, the cit­i­zens com­mit­tee and a 2011 re­port about the de­part­ment pre­pared for the town.

The next Spa­niard’s Bay coun­cil meet­ing is May 2.

Lun­dri­gan

Men­chions

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