The resolution of issues at the fire hall should be an “extremely high priority” for council and senior management at Qualicum Beach town hall, Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer said this week.
“Just about everyone I meet on the street wants to talk about the fire hall,” Luchtmeijer told The NEWS on Tuesday. “It’s something the community is talking about in-depth. It has caused an undue amount of distress amongst the public.
“The sooner we resolve this the better it will be for the health and well-being of the community.”
Luchtmeijer was asked what he thought were the next steps in the process, now that the entire Fire Service Report has been made public.
“It’s an extremely high priority in the town,” he said. “There is going to be pressure on to see senior management in both the town hall and the fire hall address the issues and rectify them. And that goes for council too.”
Luchtmeijer said he believes council’s role could be to make changes to the town’s Fire Services Bylaw, which was passed into law before the fire department had full-time, paid members.
“The fire department is very different now than when the Fire Services Bylaw was created,” he said.
At the April 8 meeting of council, Luchtmeijer said a long-standing crisis at the fire department had become a public safety issue and requires RCMP involvement in regards to an alleged incident. He said he would bring a motion to council April 22 stating the “RCMP be informed of the alleged incident and all relevant evidence be turned over to them as soon as possible.”
Mayor Teunis Westbroek said he called the RCMP the morning following the April 8 meeting and the town also sent a news release saying the current fire chief was not yet appointed when the alleged incident occurred.
Luchtmeijer, a former member of the RCMP, said Tuesday he had a “little bit of concern” with both the nature of that release from the town and the fact Westbroek called the RCMP without a motion from council instructing him to do so.
As for the timing of the alleged illegal incident, as cited in the town’s news release regarding when the current fire chief’s start date, Luchtmeijer told The NEWS: “Obviously people know more than I do because I don’t know that.”
“And council has never asked for an investigation,” said Luchtmeijer, suggesting the call by Westbroek to the RCMP was “a personal request of the mayor — that doesn’t reflect council’s wishes.”
Luchtmiejer did confirm he still intends to bring his motion forward at the regular council meeting Monday (7 p.m. at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre, which will be followed by a public information meeting regarding the proposed new fire hall).