A caretaker who currently lives at the Brown property stables in Qualicum Beach is getting an eviction notice from the town, after a three-two vote at a Monday-night council meeting.
A long and spirited discussion took place following a motion to put into writing the verbal agreements the town has with the caretaker at the property located in the Heritage Forest.
“We have to look at this and we have to act as a municipality in a business-like fashion,” said councillor Bill Luchtmeijer. “And the minute we start making little deals with people on the side we step outside of our role as good governors of this community.”
Luchtmeijer said his other concerns included possible unlicensed vehicles on the property, and the caretaker not paying taxes on the property, among other liability issues.
Coun. Dave Willie said he didn’t even understand how the caretaker got this unwritten agreement, since he was never even a staff employee, but a contractor. He said the town needs to find out if the place is even suitable for living in, and he felt the town should start fresh, with an empty building and a new policy.
“This has been going on for a year, we’ve talked about it for a year, I’m not happy with it. I don’t think anyone should be happy with it,” said Willie. “Let’s just deal with a policy. A policy needs to be in place.”
Coun. Scott Tanner said the motion to put the agreement in writing would be a good start. “History is history,” he said, adding that instead of getting lawyers involved and making a mountain out of a molehill, he wanted to approve the motion.
Chief administrative officer Mark Brown said that although the last four caretakers have had verbal agreements, times change, and if a verbal agreement is no longer suitable for the town and council in this day and age, they should have it in writing.
Willie brought forth a new motion to provide 90 days notice to the caretaker effective May 31 after which staff would prepare a report on the property’s condition and the cost to bring it up to living standards, as well as future potential obligations.
Tanner and Mayor Teunis Westbroek voiced that eviction wasn’t the answer, and Westbroek suggested they defer the motion and ask staff to bring back some ideas on how to proceed without big legal bills.
Coun. Mary Brouilette said she didn’t want to defer the motion as the situation had gone on for years and was “a bit of a joke around town actually.”
Willlie’s motion passed with Luchmeijer and Brouilette in favour and Tanner and Westbroek opposed.