The meeting was held to discuss the findings of the findings of the department review, released in late February of 2017.
The review, which is available through the town’s website, came as a result of sexual harassment allegations within the Spaniard’s Bay Volunteer Fire Department, which included the alleged presentation of pornography during a training session. Written by retired RCMP Sgt. Cliff Yetman, the review found little evidence of harassment and said firefighters did not deserve scorn and ridicule. It was accepted by council earlier this year.
Several former firefighters resigned in January of 2016, following the resignation of council liaison Sherri Collins. Collins claimed she was verbally harassed by volunteer firefighter Brenda Seymour, who is also a town councillor.
Former chief Victor Hiscock was among those to resign and decided not to reapply for a position with the brigade in February of 2016, saying he was done with it.
Making plans to meet with the former firefighters was among the recommendations Yetman presented to council in his review.
Mayor Tony Menchions told The Compass that he was very pleased with how the meeting turned out, despite the fact that he expected people to enter the meeting already a little heated.
“There was a lot discussed last week between all of us, and I think it went very well,” said Menchions. “I know that, going in, some people may have already been a little upset, but by the time the meeting was over, we were all pretty much on the same page. It was good.”
A meeting with the former chief Hiscock, which took place about an hour prior, preceded the meeting with former members of the brigade.
Menchions also stated that he and the council attended the meeting to discuss the review and other topics at hand, and that he was not interested in apologizing on anyone’s behalf.
“Things happened, people’s names were dragged through the mud, we know that. But these were things that council had no control over,” Menchions explained. “I had no intentions on apologizing for anyone. That’s not what the meeting was for.”
Menchions told The Compass that although everyone seemed to be pleased with the results of the meeting, nothing has been set in stone yet. Menchions mentioned something would soon be written up, but was unable to go into further detail.
During a council meeting held on Monday evening, June 12th, a list of new members was briefly discussed by councilors, which council had given the current brigade the go-ahead to do. Five new members have been added to the brigade.
Menchions also discussed the possibility of using the old town hall building in Spaniard's Bay for the benefit of the current fire brigade.
A tender to remove the building has been up for over a year, according to Menchions. If no buyers come forward, Menchions says the lot could possibly be used as more space for the current fire department.
No major plans have yet been made for the property, and the deadline to submit a tender on the sale of the building is set for July 7th.