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Naramata fire chief still on paid leave, officials tight-lipped

Naramata fire chief Tony Trovao has been on administrative leave since late October. Skylar Noe-Vack

The chief of the Naramata Volunteer Fire Department has been on paid leave for a month-and-a-half as an investigation proceeds into allegations that have not be revealed publicly.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS) board of directors made the decision to suspend Tony Trovao on Oct.18 at a closed-door session.

The long standing member of the fire department was placed on administrative leave Oct. 22.

“The leave is not a punishment; it’s part of a process,” RDOS chief administrative officer Bill Newell said in an email. “The chief is on paid leave until an investigation into a complaint can be completed.”

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Top two officers in B.C. Legislature put on paid administrative leave – Nov 20, 2018

Karla Kozakevich, the regional district director for Naramata, said the board of directors is not involved in the investigation and that an outside party is completing it.

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Kozakevich confirmed Trovao was the subject of complaints related to possible contraventions of the RDOS harassment, bullying and discrimination policy, RDOS code of conduct and WorkSafeBC regulations.

South Okanagan Similkameen Fire Chiefs Association spokesperson Denis Gaudry told Global Okanagan he couldn’t comment on the specific allegations.

“Tony has had an opportunity to state his peace. We are concerned with the length of time it is taking to resolve it, but we understand processes must occur. We recommend the investigation be completed as soon as possible,” Gaudry said.

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The RDOS said the administrative leave is not related to a $110,000 deficit the fire department is projected to run in 2018.

“It included $48,000 in wages that was paid out to Naramata firefighters who assisted with fire fighting in northern B.C.,” said Kozakevich. “We have since received that payment from the province.”

Kozakevich said the board is still waiting on confirmation if the investigative findings will be ready for directors to review at its Dec. 20 in-camera session.

She would not say if the report would be released to the public.

Trovao has not returned requests for comment.

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