A third-party investigation into concerns of discrimination and bullying within Qualicum Beach town council has found no evidence of such misconduct, according to a public statement from Mayor Brian Wiese.
“However, it also concludes that communication has been strained and misunderstandings have been prevalent between council members over the past two years,” the letter reads.
Council, including Coun. Robert Filmer, voted to release the findings of the investigation to the public, along with the mayor’s public statement. Council also encouraged Filmer to provide a public apology, according to the letter.
Filmer took a two month leave of absence in December, citing an unsafe workplace that had him fearing for his safety and wellbeing.
“When you work in a toxic environment of strict bullying and harassment, that tends to take a toll on your wellbeing. Especially when you tried to have it resolved and it is either refused to be resolved or swept under the rug, that’s tends to do something to one’s health,” Filmer said after announcing his leave.
Filmer said he believes other councillors are victim shaming in their response to his allegations in a public statement posted on Facebook. After reading the report from Innova Strategy Group, he said it was clear to him that fellow councillors’ statements did not match with his memory.
“It is also apparent that certain questions were posed to other staff and council members but not to me, which leads me to question the conclusions reached in the investigation,” his statement reads. “It is not lost on me that council is choosing to ignore how I felt when inappropriate comments were made to me.”
The goal of the independent investigation was to impartially examine the allegations through a series of interviews; a review of written evidence; video evidence; policy and law, according to Wiese in his letter.
“Harassment, bullying and/or discrimination of any kind is a serious matter and must not be tolerated in the workplace, at any level of government or in society as a whole. It is council’s fundamental belief that the strongest communities are ones that are diverse in thinking and in membership,” it said.