Gary Eve said he believes his dismissal as chief of the Mesachie Lake Volunteer Fire Department is likely the result of personality clashes with managers at the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
Eve, who was informed by letter last week that he, and deputy chief Owen Robertson, were having their appointments and membership in the department rescinded by the CVRD, said he was caught completely by surprise by the announcement.
He said there have been no official reviews or analysis of the 13-man volunteer department that he is aware of that could have led to his and his deputy’s termination.
“There has been continuous head butting with managers, and disagreements over such things as water usage, information technology and finances and we have asked for a meeting to express our concerns on these issues,” said Eve, who has been a firefighter for 27 years and chief since 2011.
“I believe this is a personality conflict between us and six-figure bureaucrats who are behaving like petulant children and are intent on punishing us for bringing forth these issues. I’ve never been in a position like this before and I’m seeking legal counsel.”
The CVRD has placed the Mesachie Lake fire department on “operational pause” as of Jan. 24.
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The regional district said in a press release that the purpose of the pause is to allow an independent consultant to conduct a third-party review of the department.
The review will include an assessment of the department’s equipment, building, and operations to ensure safety for Mesachie Lake residents, now and into the future, according to the release.
The release added that the community of Mesachie Lake will continue to receive full and uninterrupted fire protection from adjacent fire departments in the Cowichan Lake area while the operational pause is in place.
The third-party review is expected to be completed in the spring with a report being provided to the CVRD’s board for its consideration.
Jon Lefebure, chairman of the CVRD, said the issue is a personnel matter within the district so he has no comment.
Eve, who is self-employed and receives no remuneration for his work at the all-volunteer fire department, said his main reason for devoting so much time and effort to the fire department is that it is a way to give back to the community in which he lives.
He said he’s worried about the safety of his community with the fire department on “operational pause”.
“If the CVRD has a personality problem with me, they should just get rid of me and not take it out on the community,” he said.