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Bowen Island, B.C. fire chief retires months after firefighters threatened to quit en masse

Click to play video: 'Bowen Island volunteer fire department embroiled in controversy' Bowen Island volunteer fire department embroiled in controversy
WATCH: (Oct. 10, 2019) Bowen Island volunteer fire department embroiled in controversy – Oct 10, 2019

Three months after Bowen Island’s fire chief took a leave of absence amid a revolt by the volunteer fire department, the municipality has announced he’s retiring.

Bowen Island appointed an independent task force led by law firm Southern Butler Price LLP in October after firefighters threatened to quit en masse if chief Derek Dickson stayed in his position.

According to the Bowen Island Municipality (BIM), that task force’s report found no cause to terminate Dickson’s employment.

READ MORE: Bowen Island fire chief steps aside after volunteer firefighters threaten to resign

However, one of its recommendations was to “transition to new leadership.”

The BIM said Thursday that Dickson had agreed to retire from the fire service to “allow the department to have a fresh start with a new leader.”

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Dickson had only been in the job for four months, after being hired from North Vancouver.

The task force’s full report has not been published, and no one has so far gone on record publicly about why firefighters had lost confidence in Dickson.

READ MORE: Abbotsford firefighters’ union says department critically understaffed as city grows

In announcing the chief’s departure, the BIM thanked him for stepping aside and said he would stay on until the end of January to help with the leadership transition.

The municipality said it would meet with firefighters to discuss next steps, as guided by the task force’s report, and that the report would be released publicly once meetings had taken place.

Deputy fire chief Aaron Hanen, who took the reins of the department during Dickson’s absence, will continue to lead operations and training in the interim, the BIM said.

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