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North Westside fire chief claims he was forced to resign
Controversy continues to rage around the North Westside Fire Department.
Chief Wayne Carson resigned Sept. 16, claiming that he had no choice given allegations and job changes being made by the Regional District of Central Okanagan.
“Under normal circumstances, I would not have resigned. I loved the job and serving the community,” said Carson, who was chief for 19 years.
This is just the latest development in a conflict between Carson and RDCO.
He was suspended by the regional district for three days in June but details around that circumstance have never been made public.
He then returned to duties after the suspension but a leave of absence began July 8. RDCO has stated Carson requested the leave but Carson has denied that.
Carson says he was scheduled to go back to work Sept. 16 but during a meeting with RDCO officials, he says he was handed a reprimand letter. It was then that he decided to resign.
“Allegations have been made against me and there has been no appeal process,” he said without getting into specifics about the allegations.
“I maintain the allegations against me are false.”
Carson also claims the nature of the chief’s job and the fire department have changed while he has been on leave.
“Equipment has been sold and things have been done that water down the department’s ability to respond to wildfire,” he said, adding that construction costs for a fire boat house have also soared.
“I have never seen anything as disrespectful as this.”
Carson says he may consult a lawyer to determine what information he can release to the public, but he has no plans to sue RDCO.
“I won’t put thousands of dollars into lawyers when they will use my community’s tax dollars to fight me.”
RDCO confirms it has accepted Carson’s letter of resignation.
“It’s a personnel matter and we can’t discuss the resignation,” said Bruce Smith, communications officer.
An interim chief hired during Carson’s leave of absence will remain on duty until a new chief is named.
“We are reassuring residents that the fire department remains committed to meeting their needs,” said Smith.
“Four people have rejoined or joined over the last few months.”
Jim Edgson, North Westside director, is saying little about Carson’s departure.
“We wish him well on his endeavours,” said Edgson.