Fire chief supporters attend council meeting

Supporters of ousted Port McNeill volunteer fire chief attended a July 6 council meeting

A decision by the Town of Port McNeill to terminate the volunteer fire chief June 29 over an alleged “personal relationship with a female member”  of the fire department resulted in some of his supporters attending a July 6 council meeting.

The council meeting did not include discussion of the issue.

Walker says that he attempted to appear on the agenda for the July 6 meeting, but missed the deadline.

At the end of the meeting, at which Walker sat in the centre of the front row, Mayor Shirley Ackland opened the room to questions from the public and media. A resident asked if the councillors could go around and say when they became aware of the decision to terminate Walker.

“You’re out of order,” Mayor Ackland told the resident, before saying that the issue is covered under the Community Charter.

No questions followed, and the meeting was adjourned.

Walker’s termination from his volunteer position has created some significant controversy in Port McNeill, including an online petition to reinstate him currently having 328 supporters.

Walker said in a July 3 interview he is most concerned about a lack of process and investigation surrounding his termination.

According to Section 92 of the Community Charter, for a meeting to be closed to the public, council must state by resolution in a public meeting that the meeting will be closed, and the criteria it satisfies under Section 90.

When contacted by the Gazette to see at which meeting this was done, Town Administrator Sue Harvey responded  in an email that council met as the “personnel committee” which she says sometimes happens when “issues arise that need immediate attention in between regularly-scheduled council meetings.”

The date this occurred was not specified.

She added that minutes from personnel committee meetings are not made public due to their sensitive nature.