Qualicum Beach council flexes its muscles
It didn’t take long for the newly-elected members of Qualicum Beach council to flex their municipal muscles Monday as they overruled the mayor’s appointment to the Regional District of Nanaimo board.
The inaugural meeting, held at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre, saw Provincial Court judge the Hon. Brian Klaver swear in Teunis Westbroek as mayor and Mary Brouilette, Bill Luchtmeijer, Scott Tanner and Dave Willie as councillors for the next three years.
Any feelings of warmth and togetherness generated by the swearing in were quickly dispelled however when Westbroek called on council to begin the business part of the meeting — the delegation of responsibilities to the various members of council.
Although the mayor had put himself down to sit as the Regional District of Nanaimo director, the rest of council had another plan.
That plan became clear when Coun. Mary Brouilette made a motion to appoint Coun. Dave Willie as the RDN director, with Coun. Scott Tanner as the alternate.
Her motion was seconded by Coun. Luchtmeijer.
“The majority of faces at this table were elected on a platform of change,” he said. “After having the same face on the RDN for 12 years, that’s not change. We need a new face at the table.”
The move was supported by all four councillors, a move that didn’t sit well with the mayor.
“This is the first time in the history of Qualicum Beach that the mayor is not the representative at the RDN table,” a clearly angry Westbroek said. “I thought I was elected as mayor to represent this community, but members of council have changed that and subverted the democratic process.”
That’s not how Brouilette saw the move however.
“It’s an indication of democracy,” she said. “It’s council’s position to appoint that role for the RDN and it’s not that unusual. It has been 12 years and it’s time for a change. It was not not meant as a slight at all.”
In an interview, Brouilette said the main reason for the move was to improve the relationship with the regional district.
“In the past three years all of the issues that are very pertinent to the Qualicum Beach area — like the AWS (Arrowsmith Water Service) we got the information very, very late. This was discussed for months and months and council didn’t receive the information. It kind of came in as a bit of a fait accompli really. We felt we didn’t want to go there again.”
Westbroek saw the motivations differently however.
“I don’t think it had anything to do with good governance and I don’t buy the argument that people wanted change,” he said. “If they did, they could have voted for a different mayor. The community will judge this for what it is.”