Process wrong

Resident blasts Vernon city hall for its handling of Okanagan Landing firefighters

It is not difficult to understand that the leadership of the Vernon Fire Department has issues with the independence of the Okanagan Landing volunteer firefighters. Nonetheless, to couch their concerns in such a way as to suggest that the Landing volunteers are less competent, less well-trained and less public safety conscious than their Vernon counterparts is an undeserved low blow.

I am particularly disappointed that Mayor Sawatzky and Councillor Cunningham did not insist that the Landing volunteers have an opportunity to state their version of events prior to making a decision.

I had thought they both were staunch proponents of fair and open decision-making but I was wrong.

They made a unilateral decision in secret without giving a fair opportunity to the Landing volunteers to refute the Vernon allegations. Pity.

It was perfectly legal, of course, but ethically perverse. Even career criminals have a right to a fair trial in open court. The contention that money will be saved by the hostile take-over needs to be scrutinized while keeping a firm hand upon your taxpayers’ wallet.

One has to be quite naïve to think that full-time, paid at Vancouver rates, Vernon firefighters will not be deemed necessary within the not-so-distant future at the soon-to-be Landing station #2.

In fact, that is precisely what was proposed in the abortive takeover attempt made a few years ago.

Yes, Vernon has the legal right to terminate unilaterally a contract of service. But I for one, am ashamed at the shabby way Vernon’s Mayor Sawatzky and Councillors Cunningham, Lord and Quiring have gone about it. Kudos to Councillors Nicol, O’Keefe and Spiers for voting no.

Perhaps the right decision was made but it was not right to do so without giving the Landing volunteers a fair hearing before making the decision. Shame.

Jim Bodkin