Kingston councillor’s firefighter application causes controversy

Click to play video: 'Kingston, Ont. council to vote on launching integrity investigation into councillor’s career firefighter application'
Kingston, Ont. council to vote on launching integrity investigation into councillor’s career firefighter application
A motion will go to council asking the city's integrity commissioner to investigate after a councillor voted in favour of fast-tracking the hiring of more career firefighters, a job he is now applying for. – Jun 1, 2023

What should be a routine process hiring more firefighters to serve the growing need in Kingston, Ont., has been mired in controversy.

Much of the heat has been directed at current Pittsburgh councillor Ryan Boehme, who is applying for a full-time position with fire and rescue despite having voted in favor of expediting the very same hiring process during budget discussions.

It has some firefighters and councilors wondering: Is it a conflict of interest?

Kingston mayor Bryan Paterson has put forward a motion, seconded by Boehme himself, asking council to bring in the integrity commissioner to answer that question and launch an investigation. Paterson says he has been in discussions with Boehme about how to address the concerns.

“He and I are in agreement that this is an important step to take, to have that investigation happen.”

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Global News has reached out to Boehme for comment on his application multiple times over the past two weeks and has not heard back from him. A request for comment about the new motion did not receive a response by publication deadline.

Click to play video: 'Kingston city council establishes strategic priorities for the upcoming term'
Kingston city council establishes strategic priorities for the upcoming term

Fellow city councillor Lisa Osanic says she supports the motion coming to council.

“None of us around the horseshoe are lawyers and so this way the integrity commissioner, they are lawyers, they can then give us the right advice.”

It was Osanic who flagged the potential conflict of interest with her fellow councillors and the mayor after hearing complaints from the community last month.

“I started receiving concerns from residents and from firefighters themselves and then I started talking to other city councillors if they were also hearing it and some of them have.”

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Osanic says personally she doesn’t see it as a conflict of interest. During her time as councillor she says in the past, integrity commissioner investigations have taken at least a few weeks. Meanwhile, the firefighter hiring process could take until August, meaning Boehme should know whether or not it will be appropriate for him to continue his application before any potential job offer is made.

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