For the second time in three elections, Qualicum Beach voters may be asked to increase the size of their town council.
Mayor Teunis Westbroek gave council notice that he will put a motion forward, likely Jan. 27, to ask the public to increase the size of council to seven members (six councillors plus the mayor) from its current five (four councillors plus the mayor). If the motion is successful, voters will see the question on their ballot Nov. 15, but it would not come into effect until the next municipal election three years later.
“It’s just one of those things that from time to time we put to the public and because it’s done during an election it doesn’t really cost anything,” Westbroek said after council’s regular meeting Monday.
The same question was asked of Qualicum Beach electors in 2008 when 76 per cent of voters were opposed to increasing the size of council (2,750 voted no, 854 voted yes).
Westbroek was asked what advantages he saw for the community with a larger council.
“The reason why some people have asked me is they think it gives you a better cross section and if one councillor is away, and we have had times when there were two that were away, then all of a sudden you are down to three people and we’ve had council decision made by three people,” said Westbroek. “So if there were six, the chances are you would have more than three people.”
Westbroek is the mayor, but he’s also an elector and he was asked which way he would vote if the question was on the ballot in November.
“The way I’m thinking right now, I would say six would probably be a good idea,” said the mayor.
Council can make the change by simply passing a bylaw, but no one contacted by The NEWS thought that was a good idea.
Westbroek and Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer both said it should be a decision for the general public to make, and not just council.
Luchtmeijer did not agree with the mayor about increasing the size of council, however.
“I would have my doubts if there would be any benefit to going to a larger council,” said Luchtmeijer, a former mayor. Luchtmeijer said more valuable staff time would be eaten up providing explanations and information to seven, instead of five, members of council.
“I imagine it would slow the operation of the municipality down.”