They were long, sometimes rewarding years at the council table, but this week night a trio of councillors bid adieu to political life in Qualicum Beach — and two of them didn’t go quietly.
Speaking at the final meeting of the current council Monday night, Coun. Barry Avis made a point of detailing what he saw as councils major accomplishments over the nine years of his three terms of office.
In particular, Avis noted the $152 million worth of construction in Qualicum Beach during those nine years.
“That’s not what people realize when they say there’s nothing going on,” he said. “We’ve had some very good and appropriate additions to the town.”
Not all of Avis’ farewell address was positive, however. He took square aim at the proposed health centre for Oceanside.
“Since the beginning of my term, there has been a need for a health care facility in the area,” he said. “I truly support that … but I have a concern that the facility is $14.4 million, which works out to $360 per square foot. There was no tendering and no local builders have quoted on this project. The new city hall in Nanaimo is being built under difficult circumstances and it costs $275 per square foot. Family Place is $200 per square foot. My concern is, if we in the town ever did a project of this size without tendering, none of us would be sitting here.”
Commenting on Avis’s lengthy listing of council accomplishments, Coun. Mary Brouilette quipped that it was a good thing Avis wasn’t running for council, as he would only have two minutes to make his pitch.
Councillor Jack Wilson was also saying goodbye after nine years with the municipality. He also tweaked at Avis.
“I would like to take credit for everything Coun. Avis has listed, but I was not involved in any of the risk-taking or the work, so I won’t,” he said.
Rather than focus on past accomplishments, Wilson made a point of trying to get one or two things dealt with prior to bidding farewell.
In particular, Wilson, who sits as the chair of the Heritage Forest Commission, pushed for a new gate at the East Crescent entrance to the wood.
The gate, he said, should include a quote from Ansel Adams, which formed the motto of the Brown Property Preservation Society when it was raising funds to purchase the forest: “Let us leave a splendid legacy for our children so I can turn to them and say, this you inherit. Guard it well. Once it is destroyed, it cannot be purchased at any price.”
Wilson said his plan would involve students involved in replacing the gate, with town staff constructing a stone foundation.
“This is a very feel-good project,” he said. “The sign itself represents what we did to try to save the forest and what it means to guard it for the future. This is my last regular council meeting and I move that council endorses the refurbishing of this gate.”
Mayor Teunis Westbroek seconded Wilson’s motion.
“This is entirely appropriate,” he said. “To stop and read about that is very appropriate. This will be referred to the next council, but it is on record now.”
The motion passed unanimously.
Councillor Kent Becker was also attending his last meeting on council, but he declined to make any comments about his term.
Westbroek thanked all the outgoing councillors for their hard work over their term or terms of office.