Informed, or misinformed

That is the question school trustee candidates want voters to answer

Candidates Eve Flynn

Candidates Eve Flynn

“The gloves came off a little bit here tonight,” candidate Willow Bloomquist said half way through closing statements at the School District 69 all candidates meeting hosted by the District Parents Advisory Council.

Over 150 attended the evening in which a distinct divide between the three incumbents and five candidates running as a group was evident.

The five members of the Oceanside Communities for Quality Education members insist they are not a slate, while the three remaining candidates in the field of 11 try to stand out from the fray.

“There’s an incredible level of misinformation out there,” said incumbent Bill Preston.

“The board never planned to close any schools, it disappoints me that people haven’t done their homework,” he said referring to an earlier comment about a new bus garage in Errington and the Family Place project in Parksville, which he pointed out are from “totally different budget streams,” and don’t effect the school budgets as stated.

“Oh my, so many people going to board meetings and we’re still misinformed,” OCQE member Julie Austin responded sarcastically.

She summed up that her main qualification, like her fellow group members, is that they have students in school and are involved in their children’s lives.

OCQE member Martin Stewart said that since the current board has made their intention to close Kwalikum Secondary School (KSS) clear, a vote for the incumbents would be a strong mandate to close KSS.

He referred to the pending board vote on an updated Policy 3040 on school closure, consolidation or reconfiguration as proof they are in a rush to close the school.

The Policy 3040 revision was controversial when it was introduced in January, in light of the Matrix Report released three months earlier that recommended school closures as the best way to deal with declining enrolment and therefore funding.

The Ministry of Education required the policy to be updated and the board said the timing was coincidence and slowed the decision on the policy.

Among other changes to the pending policy, they added the requirement for a 90 day public consultation process after the policy was invoked and before a school could be closed.


The OCQE members spoke frequently and passionately about their goal to keep all schools in the district open while the incumbents repeated they never planned to close a school, that they had only received one report and had never accepted the recommendations.

Incumbent Bruce Cownden had said that despite being accused of secret agendas, the current board has done everything they were asked to since the fear of school closures came up, including starting an extensive “community dialogue” public consultation process.


Current board chair Eve Flynn, the last to close, stayed away from the dispute and said the trustee position is a multifaceted roll and a difficult balancing act to do the best they can with the five percent of their $43 million budget that they have any discretion over.



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dave Wallace coached the Parksville Royals for 23 years. (PQB News file photo)
Baseball community mourns death of longtime Parksville Royals coach Dave Wallace

‘All who knew Dave and his passion for the game will miss him greatly’

The Qualicum Beach Fire Department will purchase a new pumper truck. (PQB News file photo)
Qualicum Beach approves plans to purchase $900K truck for fire department

Current apparatus purchased more than two decades ago

Remains of the scene off Melrose Road in Whiskey Creek where three bodies were found on Nov. 1, 2020. (Mandy Moraes photo)
RCMP investigation continues into grisly discovery of 3 human bodies, 4 dead dogs near Whiskey Creek

Police still want to speak with motorist who picked up hitchhikers near scene on Nov. 1

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Most Read