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Impasse as city council votes down town hall meeting motion on ongoing issue
By Michael Christianson
The Dryden City Chamber Halls were once again standing room only as the discussions over the Dryden Fire Fighters Association’s work stoppage at Hall #1 continued.
Negotiating Committee Chair Darren Trist addressed council with a timeline of events and addressed the current lack of coverage being experienced with the four professional firefighters hired by the city.
Councilor Roger Valley asked Trist what the first thing council needed to do for the firefighters to consider returning to service.
“For us to consider returning to service, it has to involve the removal of the Fire Chief, in some capacity,” was Trist’s reply.
Later in the meeting councilor Mary Trist put forward her motion to hold a town hall meeting and/or immediately restart conversations with the DFFA.
Councilor Nick Beyak spoke first addressing the meeting that was held on Feb. 27 in which he, Valley and councilor Martin MacKinnon met with DFFA executives.
“The concern I have is having again been in that meeting on the 27 and seeing the progress that was made and then seeing what happened on the Friday night, I don’t know how we can move forward,”
Valley agreed with the motion saying that it is part of their job to hear the public on both sides, though he doesn’t agree with the DFFA not returning to work.
Councilor John Carlucci had strong words against the string of personal attacks on social media directed at members of council and the administration, declaring them bullies.
“I will not stand for the Association leadership to hold the city hostage any longer. Choices were made by the majority of you not to resume protection. I get brotherhood,” said Carlucci. “The spokesperson can apologize all he wants to the citizens but the bottom line is still not protecting our citizens. Behind closed doors they said they would assist if a major event happened at the seniors homes, hospital, etc. Where does that leave the citizens and our homes?”
Mayor Greg Wilson alluded to the Feb. 10 inspection of the DFFA room noting that the Association had 24 hours notice of the impending visit. On the issue of a town hall meeting Wilson said that anyone who felt their voice wasn’t heard can ask for a delegation. Wilson also said DFFA’s request to remove Fire Chief Ryan Murrell is a human resources issue and does not require a mediator.
The motion failed to reach approval with only councilors Valley and Trist supporting.
“It’s an HR issue so we cannot address those things in public, there are strict guidelines that we have to follow. It would have to be addressed internally, any HR issues with city employees are addressed through internal processes,” said Wilson following the council meeting.
Valley also addressed the request for Murrell’s removal following the meeting.
“I don’t think it’s up to the Dryden Fire Association to tell us how to deal with some of our employees, especially senior management,” said Valley. “I’m hoping that a meeting of minds can happen. I think there has got to be some room for flexibility on all sides. We’ll deal with issues of management; they need to deal with issues and get their team back to work. I think there’s a resolution to this before other people are involved like the province and the Fire Marshal’s office.”