Furor created over control of hostel

Staff ~ The Record
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By Christopher Gooding

The Record

WENTWORTH A Saskatoon couple created quite the stir in the Wentworth Valley after their dismissal from the local hostel.

Alleging they faced homelessness, Kia and Jonathan Pedersen went to the press and recounted how after leaving their home in Saskatoon for what they felt would be the good life in Nova Scotia their dreams were shattered by what they alleged was unfair treatment at Hostels Internationals Wentworth site. The Pedersens alleged undue scrutiny, lack of training and a meddlesome board member hampered their employment.

Board members and supervisors for the site, however, say it was the Pedersens and their upkeep which was less than satisfactory and the relationship came to an end this month.

Shane Pizzariello, manager of Hostels Internationals Halifax site, knows all too well the challenges of running the Wentworth hostel, which he did in 1999 before moving to Halifax. He also knows how difficult it was to fire the Pedersens after eight months on the job; Pizzariello is Jonathans father.

Were getting through it, Pizzariello said from Stanfield International Airport Monday before boarding a flight to Newfoundland to inspect a prospective location for Hostels International.

When first reported, the Pedersens had taken took issue with their termination at the hands of Hostels International Maritimes board of directors, alleging inadequate training before an inspection by the hostels previous manager, Gloria Demers, which lead to their termination and the reappointment Demers as manager.

After the Pedersens story was ipublished, Hostels International Maritimes board member and president Diane Powell revised her statements to the press, introducing Pizzariello into the story and his involvement in the firing of his own son after the board decided to end the Pedersens employment.

It was Shane who visited on a number of occasions throughout the fall and early winter to address cleaning and maintenance concerns, it was Shane who gave them warnings and it was Shane who finally told them they would have to leave, Powell says.

In a copy of the minutes of Hostels International Maritimes board meeting in January, concerns about the Wentworth hostel were raised and suggestions to create a detailed job description and have Pizzariello send the Pedersens a written notice. It was also decided at the January meeting the board would approach Demers about supervising the hostel twice a week.

Far from wearing a white glove, we went from top to bottom of expectations, Pizzariello said. I talked to him about issues on a personal note, emails, [but] finally it came to a written warning.

There was no clear indication in the minutes, however, the Pedersens jobs were about to be terminated.

When the Pedersens failed their final inspection and were fired, Pizzariello says he offered them a place to stay at the Halifax Hostel or his own apartment in Halifax. The Pedersens, however, reported themselves as dejected and abandoned, looking for work and concerned they would be living out of their car on Monday. This past Sunday, though, the Pedersens reported they had found both a place to live and work in the Truro area.

Efforts to reach the Pedersens for comment on Pizzariellos handling of their firing were unsuccessful.

Organizations: Hostels International Maritimes board, Stanfield International Airport

Geographic location: Wentworth Valley, Halifax, Saskatoon Nova Scotia Newfoundland Truro

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