News

Policy ‘a great disservice’

JOHN HARDING

editor@pqbnews.com

Qualicum Beach town council will develop guidelines for groups that wish to invite councillors to their meetings.

It’s an issue that came to a head at the Qualicum Beach Residents Association (QBRA) last week when Mayor Tuenis Westbroek said he didn’t believe he could talk about anything council may vote on in the future because councillors Scott Tanner and Bill Luchtmeijer were also in the room.

Westbroek told the gathering the advice he was getting from town staff was that if there were three or more councillors in a room, that constituted a quorum and a de facto council meeting. And since there was no official notice or agenda posted for this supposed council meeting, nothing forwarding town business could be discussed.

That stance by the mayor had residents, council members and the letters to the editor pages of The NEWS hopping with all sorts of emotion.

It’s been a convoluted mess of opinions, legal grey areas and inflammatory comments and accusations. Town corporate administrator Trudy Coates read from the Community Charter — basically the book of laws for municipalities in B.C. — at council’s meeting Monday night in an apparent attempt to provide some clarity on the issue.

In the end, that clarity seemed elusive Monday night and council decided to send the issue to the committee of the whole with an aim to develop guidelines for groups like the QBRA who want to discuss pending town issues like the new fire hall or paving projects.

That decision didn’t come before more passionate discussion on the subject Monday night.

“This whole policy is a great disservice to the people of Qualicum Beach and us as elected officials,” said Tanner, who is also a paid-up member of the QBRA but volunteered to leave the room at QBRA meeting last week. “I don’t want to spend the rest of my term looking over my shoulder to count how many councillors are in the room.”

“Other communities don’t take this to this extreme,” said Coun. Dave Willie. “It doesn’t seem to be an issue anywhere else. I think we’re taking it way too far. It’s ridiculous. We live in a small town and you’re telling me I can’t go to a meeting?”

Luchtmeijer said councillors can’t do their job properly without “open dialogue” with community groups.

“This flies in the face of the reason I’m sitting at this table,” said the former mayor. He also said groups like the QBRA and Eaglecrest Residents Association “should be insulted that all (members) of council were not at their meetings.”

Coun. Mary Brouilette called this a “tempest in a teapot. Let’s use our heads. C’mon, this (discussions with groups and residents) is what we do.”

“I don’t like this rule either but this is what I’m being told,” said Westbroek.

At the time of the meeting Monday when it was the residents’ turn to address council, Hilda Pearce said: “I wonder why council chooses to follow some part of the charter and not others.”

It’ was not clear Monday night when council would bring any recommendations on this subject to a regular meeting of council for adoption.

to the committee of the whole with an aim to develop guidelines for groups like the QBRA who want to discuss pending town issues like the new fire hall or paving projects.

That decision didn’t come before more passionate discussion on the subject Monday night.

“This whole policy is a great disservice to the people of Qualicum Beach and us as elected officials,” said Tanner, who is also a paid-up member of the QBRA but volunteered to leave the room at QBRA meeting last week. “I don’t want to spend the rest of my term looking over my shoulder to count how many councillors are in the room.”

“Other communities don’t take this to this extreme,” said Coun. Dave Willie. “It doesn’t seem to be an issue anywhere else. I think we’re taking it way too far. It’s ridiculous. We live in a small town and you’re telling me I can’t go to a meeting?”

Luchtmeijer said councillors can’t do their job properly without “open dialogue” with community groups.

“This flies in the face of the reason I’m sitting at this table,” said the former mayor. He also said groups like the QBRA and Eaglecrest Residents Association “should be insulted that all (members) of council were not at their meetings.”

Coun. Mary Brouilette called this a “tempest in a teapot. Let’s use our heads. C’mon, this (discussions with groups and residents) is what we do.”

“I don’t like this rule either but this is what I’m being told,” said Westbroek.

At the time of the meeting Monday when it was the residents’ turn to address council, Hilda Pearce said: “I wonder why council chooses to follow some part of the charter and not others.”

It’ was not clear Monday night when council would bring any recommendations on this subject to a regular meeting of council for adoption.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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