A month after an exclusive CTV News report on allegations of a cover-up in the town of Wasaga Beach following an investigation into an inappropriate sexual relationship between the town’s fire chief and an employee, Fire Chief Mike McWilliam announced that he was retiring.
The longtime fire chief cited personal and family reasons for his retirement.
In late July, the employee’s mother told CTV News that after leaving the city job in 2020, her daughter attempted suicide at least twice.
The former employee claims the fire chief abused and harassed her after their consensual extramarital relationship ended.
CTV News obtained confidential city documents outlining the woman’s concerns before taking her complaint to the human resources (HR) department, fearing retaliation and backlash due to the close working relationship between the city’s mayor, the general manager and fire chief.
The document reveals that the fire chief asked his collaborator to share intimate pornographic images and videos; while he did the same, including photos of his genitals.
The memo says CAO George Vadeboncoeur ordered a second legal opinion following an initial investigation by HR counsel.
The document revealed that a second lawyer had determined that the initial lawyer’s recommendations were “excessive” and that the fire chief ultimately kept his job.
McWilliam was suspended with pay during the lengthy investigation.
The woman’s mother told CTV News that her daughter was stressed, had lost her hair and couldn’t function at her job. She took medication to cope.
Unable to work under McWilliam, the woman left town after accepting a financial package but not before signing a nondisclosure agreement.
Following an occupational health and safety complaint of alleged harassment, the Department of Labor was called upon to investigate the town of Wasaga Beach, issuing six orders last month.
The department found that the city’s workplace violence and harassment policy had not been reviewed in nine years.
A statement released Friday by CAO Vadeboncoeur regarding McWilliam’s retirement reads in part: “I am saddened that Chief McWilliam is retiring under these circumstances. These comments he and his family have endured from some over the The past four weeks since CTV Barrie News chose to air a one-sided story have been despicable.We wish him the best in his retirement.
In the statement, Vadeboncoeur also thanks the fire chief for his 33 years of service and notes his stint as the city’s health and safety officer.
An email to staff said McWilliam had asked the city not to throw him a retirement party until after the mayoral election in late October.