Open letter to the community:
The Bowen Island volunteer firefighters (BIVF) wish to thank the community for all the support we have received over the past several months in the face of the dispute by Municipality.
These months have been extremely stressful and a very difficult time for us, but at this point we hope for a resolution which will be acceptable to us and serve the community's interest.
However, we remain concerned. Many of you may be unaware that the Municipality hired a team of lawyers to carry out an investigation on their behalf. Naturally, as the lawyers were retained by the municipality, their investigation was to provide a report intended to justify the means for his (the chief) actions.
We have now seen that report and observe that it is very one-sided, in our opinion, a white wash. The report omits significant facts and events between BIVF and the municipality, for example:
1. The fact that the municipal administration and Council failed to respond to volunteers after they had made out their concerns in September.
2. That council met to consider the BIVF on September 30, with no notice to the volunteers, and adopted resolutions to investigate the fire department, that we can only interpret as punitive.
3. That on October 1, Mayor Ander issued an ultimatum to the volunteers to attend practises or risk termination of benefits.
4. That after assuring the volunteers that a neutral third-party facilitator would be brought in to assist with the resolution, Municipality instead hired lawyers and a consultant to conduct an investigation and advise the municipality.
Throughout this process, the volunteers have continued to provide services to the community, and have cooperated in the municipality’s investigation.
Also noteworthy is that the municipality has never consulted with the Bowen Island public or the BIVF respecting their agenda to take full control over the fire department.
Nor have they consulted with the public about the probable cost to taxpayers of replacing the volunteers with a paid fire department.
The volunteers have paid substantial legal fees in defending themselves. Much of this has been donated by community members, for which we thank you. We will be conducting fundraising activities, including; a car wash, and Xmas tree chipping service. We know that this fundraising would normally go toward community benefits.
Thank you for all your support and happy holidays.
On behalf of the Bowen Island Volunteer Firefighters