How coincidental that on January 18th, 2021, the CBC ran a story about the extremely toxic environment at the Calgary Fire Department (CFD) entitled “Trauma at the Station.”
The gist of the story is about workplace toxicity, in which sources refer to their environment as placing them in IDLH (immediate danger to life and health), capable of creating damage to their mental and emotional health. One firefighter, Barry Dawson, had such a difficult time with the CFD, “fraught with battles over his hair and the fact that he was different — flamboyant, stylish, a former model,” he took his own life.
“People have killed themselves because of this culture, and I’ve been trying to tell people that for five years,” said recently retired captain Chris Coy (with the CFD from 1996 until 2014), who was the first Black firefighter to be hired in Calgary.
When Qualicum Beach Councillor Robert Filmer took a two month leave of absence in December, he cited basically the same reasons, a toxic, unsafe, unkind, and unwelcoming, environment, leaving him in a place of personal distress and unease.
The reason I mention the CBC article is that QB Mayor Brian Wiese was with the CFD (from 2005 to 2012), which suggests he would have been familiar with this type of environment, yet his response to Filmer’s public statement was “I disagree with the allegations he has made and I’m disappointed that he has chosen to raise them in the manner he did.”
Possible, however, it’s not just Filmer who has commented on the toxic, unsafe environment at QB Council, as other letters and emails to the mayor on precisely the same subject have gone unanswered.
It’s time a review of Council’s Code of Conduct be undertaken before it deteriorates any further.