Criticism of municipal work OK, disrespect is not

That feedback should focus on issues, not people.

Criticism of municipal work OK, disrespect is not

RE: “Plow Driver has no idea how to properly clear snow” (Citizen, Feb. 20)

Mr. Stasynec has some complaints about the methods used by our snow plow drivers with respect to snow removal in our recent storm event(s). We accept that there is always room for improvement, and a review of how North Cowichan handled the recent snowfalls was initiated well before this letter was published in the Citizen. But the real point I want to make in response to the letter is that while criticism is OK, disrespectful language is not.

Mr. Stasynec’s letter contained terms like “idiot plow driver,” “imbecile,” fraud,” “kickbacks,” and “stupidity.” As mayor, I simply cannot sit by and watch this kind of intimidating, humiliating, and defamatory language directed towards our staff; especially not in a forum as public as the “Letters to the Editor” page. Our dedicated employees, including a number of snow plow drivers, worked ‘round the clock doing their best in very difficult weather this winter, beginning with the windstorm just before Christmas, then several high water incidents, and then snow storms earlier this month. Attacks on staff’s intelligence, motivation, and integrity are completely unacceptable.

To be clear, North Cowichan is open to feedback, and there are appropriate channels through which concerns about policy, procedures, and even staff behaviour can be addressed. But that feedback should focus on issues, not people. It should be addressed without the use of insults, personal attacks, or derogatory comments about individuals.

Feb. 27 is Pink Shirt Day — a day to raise awareness about bullying in schools, workplaces, homes, and online. North Cowichan began participating in this venture last year because we want to be known as an employer that prioritizes respect. So, to put this value into practice, I feel compelled to respond to Mr. Stasynec’s letter by calling out this bullying and disrespectful language, and appealing for civil dialogue that is carried out with respect.

Criticism is ok. Disrespectful language is not.

Al Siebring, mayor

District Municipality of North Cowichan

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