CORNWALL – An attempt at humour, surrounding the divisive and heated subject of banning open wood-based fires in the city, appears to have backfired on Cornwall Fire Chief Pierre Voisine.
The chief was playing at the Team Cornwall Golf Tournament on Tuesday at Summerheights Golf Links when he signed “Chief Fire Ban Voisine” on the men’s longest drive at the first tee.
In an email to the mayor and council, obtained by Cornwall Newswatch, Voisine says the open fire ban is “resonating within social media, on the radio and through many conversations I had at the Team Cornwall Golf Tournament.”
Voisine says he had so many talks that it was “even earning (him) the nickname Chief ‘Fire Ban’ Voisine, among others.” He wrote the nickname on the card at the hole. A picture of the moniker was captured by Coun. Justin Towndale and circulated to the rest of council and the mayor.
Towndale says it was brought to his attention by prominent members of the public, asking whether the chief thought the issue was funny.
“There’s nothing funny about this. There’s nothing professional about this. People are upset about a Council decision, and this flippant action is thumbing your noses at residents who are upset, of which there are many,” Towndale wrote in an email Thursday morning to administration and council.
“What you’ve done is poured more fuel on the fire and played with the emotions of our residents,” he wrote.
Towndale was one of three councillors to vote against the open wood fire ban at last week’s council meeting. The final vote was 8-3.
The chief apologized in the email for his actions and said it was “not meant as a slight to anyone but me.” Towndale is asking for a public apology.
The bylaw to finalize the wood burning fire ban is expected to be passed at the Sept. 23 council meeting.