Bowen Island fire chief Derek Dickson is retiring from the fire service at the end of the month according to a press release from Bowen Island Municipality Thursday.
Dickson, who started at BIM last July, was the subject of a dispute between Bowen Island Municipality and the island’s 26 volunteer firefighters. Back in October, all the volunteers threatened to quit if the chief wasn’t removed from his position citing a “poor fit” with the department. To prevent the mass resignation Dickson took a paid leave while the parties went into mediation.
BIM’s press release said that Dickson’s departure follows the submission of the Phase 2 report of the Southern Butler Price task force. The task force was appointed in October to facilitate the conflict resolution.
“While the Task Force found no cause for termination of Chief Dickson’s employment with BIM, one of the recommendations of the Task Force was to transition to new leadership of the department,” said the press release.
The phase two report, submitted in late 2019, comes after the task force conducted an “environmental scan” that was to include interviewing all current volunteer firefighters, former fire chiefs, current fire chief, the fire department’s social or alumni members, members of council, the human resources committee and community members.
Back in December, on behalf of the volunteer firefighters, firefighter Shawn Davies wrote in an open letter that the group had read the Phase 2 report and said they observed that “it is very one-sided, in our opinion, a white wash.”
While the report hasn’t been made public, BIM says it contains recommendations for moving forward.
The press release said that BIM wishes to continue to work with the firefighters guided by the recommendations and will meet to this end.
“The Phase 2 report and recommendations will be made available to the community following the commencement of these meetings between BIM and the volunteer firefighters,” said the release.
BIM’s interim chief administrative officer Dennis Back told the Undercurrent that the meetings between the parties and subsequent release of the report would likely start in a couple of weeks.
The firefighters have not yet released a statement in response to Dickson’s retirement.
Deputy fire chief Aaron Hanen is maintaining fire hall responsibilities at this time. Back said that the search for a new chief will begin in coming weeks.