Martin Drakeley resigns as North Cowichan fire chief amidst controversy
North Cowichan’s top fire official is resigning in the wake of a report citing firefighter concerns with how the department is run, sixmountains.ca has learned.
“I am advising of the resignation of Fire Chief and Senior Bylaw Manager Martin Drakeley, effective August 25,” Assistant Fire Chief Jason deJong writes in an internal email to firefighters.
“A more fulsome email will be coming out from the CAO shortly. A decision on how to move forward is currently under review. Once a decision has been made, it will be shared with staff.”
Chief Administrative Officer Ted Swabey did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
sixmountains.ca reported June 20, 2023, that North Cowichan’s paid on-call firefighters had unionized and were negotiating with the Municipality for a first contract.
Swabey ordered a “communication and leadership effectiveness review” following a consultant’s report citing firefighter concerns.
In a May 12 email to firefighters, Swabey said the review would include: a review of related documents; interviews with council members, select municipal staff, and select previous fire department members; and separate group sessions with the fire department leadership team, station officers, and firefighters.
Swabey continued: “The topics covered in all interviews and group sessions will be restricted to communications and leadership. Tim Pley will conduct all interviews and group sessions. Tim is a retired local government CAO who served for 26 years in the municipal fire service, with eight years as a fire chief.”
Drakeley joined North Cowichan in 2019. http://bitly.ws/J5q9
Firefighters joined the Canadian Union of Public Employees last March. Contract talks with the Municipality are continuing.
Further reading: http://bitly.ws/RTPb
(Photo: Martin Drakeley, municipal website).
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— Larry Pynn, Aug 14, 2023