The regional district needs to be more transparent in the case of the Mesachie Lake fire hall closure. (Citizen file)

Editorial: Transparency needed on Mesachie Lake fire hall closure

Replacing rumour with facts in a case like this serves the public interest

There needs to be some way to have more transparency from local governments when things happen that effect communities.

Late last week the Cowichan Valley Regional District announced that the Mesachie Lake fire hall would be put on “operational pause” (an opaque phrase if we’ve ever heard one). When digging into the story we ran into roadblocks immediately. It was obvious to the Citizen reporter covering the story that CVRD chairman Jon Lefebure was speaking cautiously. We had difficulty nailing down exactly why there was a pause — was it a lack of equipment? Training? Not enough firefighters? It didn’t appear to be any of the above, which only left more questions.

Of course, the community had those questions, too, and more.

We reached out to the fire chief to see if he had any more information. He didn’t — and not only that, we discovered that he and the deputy chief had been removed from their positions, and indeed from the firehall roster. Chief Gary Eve says he doesn’t know why, and can only speculate it’s a personality conflict.

This really isn’t good enough from the CVRD. We understand the restrictions on them: they cannot discuss personnel matters. It’s about privacy. But there needs to be some better mechanism when an entire community is losing their firehall for an undetermined amount of time. We think they deserve to know why. We think the firefighters, chief and deputy chief certainly deserve to know why, so they’re not left with only speculation.

It’s all a bit bizarre. Replacing rumour with facts in a case like this serves the public interest, and yet the local government cannot give us the facts. At this point, are those rules and regulations really protecting anyone, or just causing a lot of distrust and bad feeling?

It’s at least worth a serious discussion.

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