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The Oak Bay Fire Department hall. Image: © 2023 Google

Several Oak Bay fire department members resign

By Brad Perry Mar 15, 2023 | 4:30 PM

Nearly the entire Oak Bay Fire Department has resigned over concerns around the local government amalgamation process.

Local governance reforms in January saw the Town of St. Stephen and portions of five local service districts — which included Oak Bay — combined to form the Municipal District of St. Stephen.

As a result, the volunteer fire department in Oak Bay now falls under the jurisdiction of the Municipal District of St. Stephen.

But concerns about how the process has played out prompted the department’s chief and now most of its volunteer members to resign.

“This process of amalgamation has been fraught with behind closed door actions, no communication, and what feels like more of a hostile takeover than an amalgamation,” read part of the resignation letter sent to reporters.

Captain Bob Barrett and Assistant Chief George MacLeod, who are among the members to resign, said in an email that the process “has been anything but collaborative and open.”

In an interview, Barrett said they are not against amalgamation in the slightest, but disagree with how it has been handled.

“I have the utmost respect for the firefighters of St. Stephen. This is about the leadership of the town, not communicating at all with us,” he said.

The two firefighters allege the department has been “shut out about any conversation” about amalgamation and that the municipal leadership “has refused to meet and discuss” the issues at hand.

“When we’re starting off from a point where they don’t want to collaborate and don’t want to work together, it felt more like a hostile takeover,” said Barrett.

The letter of resignation said the department asked for two things: time and a “truly collaborative mindset to work together to make the best fire service possible for the citizens of this municipality.”

“We are making a decision that we never wanted to have to make and never should have been put in a position to have to make,” said the letter.

“We cannot serve under a leadership and community that we do not trust and one that has disrespected our service so much, and that is disheartening.”

The resignations will take effect March 24. You can view a copy of the resignation letter by clicking here.

No one from the Municipal District of St. Stephen responded to our request for comment on Wednesday.


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