When he heard about how many members of Qualicum Beach council were not planning to run again in November, Bill Luchtmeijer became concerned.
“It’s a pretty long, steep learning curve,” he said.
Luchtmeijer began his political career in 1993, when he won a seat on the town council, where he served for three years. When then-mayor Jack Collins announced his retirement, Luchtmeijer ran successfully for the mayor’s chair, where he served for another three-year term.
The potential lack of experience on council is just one of the reasons the former mayor of Qualicum Beach decided to throw his hat in the ring to run for a seat as a councillor.
His main concern, he said, involves the seemingly endless annual tax increases imposed by the municipality.
“We see the continual increase in property taxes and auxiliary charges, which are really taxes,” he said. “We have maintained the status quo for quite a number of years and that has usually meant a three or four per cent tax increase a year, with not a lot of change in the service we’re getting. Over a number of years, that’s quite a chunk of money.”
Luchtmeijer said this is particularly problematic on projects that have specific tax increases dedicated to them, such as the ring road or town hall.
“These large projects never come with a sunset clause,” he said. “We still collect taxes on the basis of a level of expenditure we don’t necessarily have now. I would like to see, when we go into further developments, that sunset clauses become part of the package.”
Luchtmeijer said the world’s economy has changed dramatically since he sat on council, but he hasn’t seen a corresponding change in the way the town does business. This, he said, is a mistake.
“We need to seriously approach the world economic situation on a local basis, so we don’t end up taxed out of our homes or not have any services. The challenge now has to be how do we juggle the cost of that quality of life with a tax base that really shouldn’t be going upwards in the economic climate we have today?”
Another point Luchtmeijer wants to stress is the need to provide jobs for younger families.
“We are quickly becoming a one-industry town, and that industry is retirement,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a comfortable environment to be in because it does not have a growth factor or financial return that many other industries would give us.”
In addition to the senior sector, he said, Luchtmeijer said he wants to see a revitalization of the tourist accommodation sector in town, so Qualicum Beach can once again realistically call itself a tourist destination town.
Luchtmeijer stressed that his vision of council is one of five people working together for the betterment of the community, so he’s hoping disagreements, in future, won’t become personal.
He said he has what it takes to serve Qualicum Beach well.
“I’m willing to offer my experience and background to help lead us through tough economic times and I will seriously be searching for alternatives to the way things have been done in the past, so we don’t get rolled over by a recession, if one is really on the way.”