The annual general meeting of the Qualicum Beach Residents association Tuesday night turned into a debate about when the mayor and councillors should be allowed to attend gatherings of their constituents.
Mayor Tuenis Westbroek was the guest speaker, but he indicated he would not be able to answer any questions about, or discuss anything related to matters town council may debate, because town councillors Scott Tanner and Bill Luchtmeijer were also in attendance. The mayor said he believed the presence of three members of council at this meeting constituted a quorum and a de facto council meeting. And since this council meeting was never advertised or set as official, no possible business of the future could be discussed.
“I could step outside and you could ask these two gentlemen (Tanner and Luchtmeijer),” Westbroek suggested. “I’m sorry but them are the rules.”
This had some members of the association — there were 44 in attendance at the civic centre — frustrated and they expressed their disappointment to the mayor and councillors. Eventually, Tanner volunteered to leave the meeting and Luchtmeijer left the room at the same time.
“That’s an overly broad interpretation of the law and not, I believe, the intent of the law,” said resident Craig Dutton, a lawyer. “(The mayor’s interpretation) definitely stifles the democratic process.”
A municipal employee in a different B.C. community told The NEWS on Wednesday that when the Community Charter replaced the Municipal Act in 2004 as the collection of laws that govern towns and cities in the province, some officials “struggled” with the concept of what was and what was not an actual council meeting.
But that was early in the days of the transition to the Community Charter, and according to this municipal official:
“I have yet to know of any municipality in the province called on the carpet over this, and I would have heard for sure.”