Okanagan woman found not guilty of harassing North Westside fire chief

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WATCH: Court rules North Westside woman not guilty of criminally harassing fire chief – Aug 5, 2019

An Okanagan woman accused of harassing a local fire chief is feeling vindicated after her criminal conviction over harassing phone calls was reversed on appeal.

North Westside resident Sharon Schnurr was found not guilty of one count of making harassing communication in June, nearly a year after she was originally convicted of the charge.

The charge alleged it amounted to harassment when Schnurr made multiple calls to the North Westside volunteer fire chief in 2017 to discuss smoke complaints.

The fire chief testified the complaints were not valid and that they took his time away from other important issues.

However, Schnurr appealed her conviction, and it was reversed. Schnurr was found not guilty.

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In his decision to reserve her conviction, published Friday, Justice A. Saunders, found that the fire chief’s testimony about what constituted a smoke nuisance under the local bylaws was wrong and that if the fire chief’s “investigations of Ms. Schnurr’s complaints were grounded on his mistaken reading of the bylaws, then his investigations [of her complaints] were flawed,…and his complaint to the police that he was being harassed to investigate matters that were not bylaw infractions was simply unfounded.”

The justice added that it can’t be criminal “to harass a public official in order to goad them into performing their duties.”

Schnurr said she feels vindicated by the decision but doesn’t believe much will change as a result.

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She said that the case also won’t change her approach to making complaints in the future.

North Westside’s fire chief declined to comment on the case but defended his department saying that it does an amazing job.

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