Councillor wants to move on from RDN debate

It's time to put hard feelings behind us say councillor, mayor

In a perfect world, Qualicum Beach town councillor Bill Luchtmeijer would have preferred the directorship of the Regional District of Nanaimo wouldn’t have gone to Coun. Dave Willie alone, but rather, it would have rotated amongst all of council.

As it turns out however, that’s not how the RDN works, so if the mayor wasn’t going to be the director, a plan B was needed.

“I felt it would be more appropriate for the position to be rotated,” Luchtmeijer said. “I discussed it with the other councillors and then I did a little homework to see if that was a viable proposition. However, I determined the RDN position wasn’t suitable for a rotation because it is appointed as a full three-year term, so to release themselves from that term would require resignations and then re-installations, so a five-person rotation really didn’t work.”

Keeping the status quo, with Mayor Teunis Westbroek in the director’s chair, wasn’t viable for Luchtmeijer either.

“He held the position for 12 years and I have some concerns about how information was coming back to the town,” he said.

Luchtmeijer stressed that the appointment of regional district board directors is done at the pleasure of council, so while a vote going against the mayor’s recommendation may be unusual, it is not unheard of, nor does it violate protocol.

Although he has experience with the board, having sat as the director when he was mayor, of Qualicum Beach, Luchtmeijer said he wasn’t interested in returning, as he didn’t feel like he had the time.

“It’s the same reason I didn’t run for mayor,” he said. “I don’t have the time.    If you are in retail business, either the business suffers or the work suffers. When you start taking on responsibilities above and beyond, it becomes questionable.”

He said Willie was chosen to take the position because he expressed an interest in it.

“He also has the time available to him,” Luchtmeijer said. “From the aspect of a new face at the table, there will definitely be a flow of information back and forth.”

Willie, who is currently holidaying in New Zealand, was unavailable for comment.

Luchtmeijer said he was disappointed with the way the mayor reacted to the change in plans at the inaugural meeting.

“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “The mayor didn’t act like a leader on this issue. It was a a four to one vote on council.”

Luchtmeijer called the issue “a tempest in a teapot” and stressed that council will have far more important things to discuss when they begin their three-year term in earnest after the holidays.

“There are lots of issues facing Qualicum Beach that need to be addressed and I think this set the tone for our meetings, in that  we are going to do our homework and work hard at what we feel is right for the town.”

Westbroek sees things differently however. While he said he agreed with the idea of rotating positions on the various boards and committees of council, that doesn’t extend to the regional district position.

He cited consultant George Cuff, whom he said suggested rotating positions on various boards but not for the RDN position.

Although he conceded relations may have been strained between the school board and the municipality, Qualicum Beach was by no means the only group facing difficulty on that front.

“The whole community agreed the board needed to be replaced and they have been,” he said. “Once in a while a crisis can cause good things to happen as well and KSS looked like a disaster for the town and now closing the school isn’t even talked about. Now, the board is moving ahead with the idea of a music academy. That’s good news. Let’s focus on that.”

Like Luchtmeijer however, Westbroek said it’s time for council to move forward to deal with the issues facing Qualicum Beach.

“I am confident in the new year council will be able to reconcile our differences and move forward in the interest of our community,” he said. “All the folks who put their names forward for council  had the best interests of the community at heart and we need to focus on that.”

Westbroek thanked all those who have supported him and wished everyone in Qualicum Beach a merry Christmas.


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