West Kelowna  

North Westside residents claim bullying, harassment by RDCO

Angry at RDCO, want action

Some residents of communities that make up the North Westside have renewed calls for an independent governance study amid the controversy surrounding the suspension of two of their firefighters.

A week ago, Fire Chief Jason Satterthwaite and Lt. Rob Gadja were suspended indefinitely, causing yet another rift between the small community and the Regional District of Central Okanagan, which oversees governance.

A letter, sent to Minister Selina Robinson, her deputy, MLA Ben Stewart and the office of the fire commissioner, obtained by Castanet News, claims Satterthwaite and Gadja were bullied and harassed by officials within the RDCO then ultimately suspended for insubordination.

The accusations, Callie Simpson writes in her letter, stem from separate incidents regarding equipment used by the volunteer firefighters and an offer by a resident of a quarantine home pertaining to COVID-19.

She further claims the two were slapped with a gag order, preventing them from contacting their elected representative, area director Wayne Carson.

"We believe our fire department is being bullied and harassed by the RDCO and that the suspensions
were unjust," the letter states.

"We are requesting immediate reinstatement of Chief Satterthwaite and Lt. Gajda until such time a third party investigation concludes the suspensions were in fact justified."

Simpson goes on to appeal for assistance in obtaining an independent governance review for North Westside communities.

The issue of self-governance first surfaced in 2016, when 700 people in the community of between 1,000 and 1,500 signed a petition asking for a governance review.

That request was eventually denied, with the province suggesting a Services and Community Issues Review instead.

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