Parksville mayor calls conflict allegation ‘spurious’

Manager of The Beach Club takes council — and one councillor — to task over their lack of liquor license support

News File Photos

News File Photos

While The Beach Club Resort is unsatisfied, Parksville mayor and council are sticking with their decision to voice an opinion against a liquor license extension.

On May 28 council decided against supporting The Beach Club’s Pacific Prime Steak and Chop Restaurant and Lounge’s request for the city’s support for an application to the Liquor Control Licensing Branch (LCLB) for a permanent change to their food primary license.

They wanted to add an entertainment endorsement to allow live and recorded music for events, including dancing, in the restaurant, lounge and patios until 11 p.m., consistent with the city’s noise control bylaw.

While a Beach Club representative had letters of support from some neighbouring businesses, council received 23 letters against and six members of the gallery spoke at the time in opposition.

Some of the most passionate opposition also came from the Sea Edge Motel next door to The Beach Club, stating that their return guests come for a quiet vacation.

After what mayor Chris Burger described as “good discussion all around the council table,” they voted against the request and eventually supported an alternative option, allowing music until 11 p.m., but only inside.

On August 15, Beach Club General Manager Shawna Broekhuizen issued a letter to mayor, council and local media laying out concerns about the process.

The letter said the city accepted letters of opposition from “outside of the city’s stated limits,” though Parksville chief administrative officer Fred Manson points out they simply advertised for a response from residents and didn’t stipulate a specific distance.

Broekhuizen’s main complaint was about the involvement of councillor Carrie Powell-Davidson.

She wrote that because “Powell-Davidson wears many hats in the Oceanside community, including her employment as a member of the local media, as a travel writer and editor, and as a local special events co-ordinator,” she was in a conflict of interest and shouldn’t have spoken against the request.

Powell-Davidson’s “verbal objections in council were, we feel, inappropriate under these circumstances and should not have been made, especially with the public and media present.”

Powell-Davidson told The News on Thursday she is confident she was not in conflict and referred questions to the mayor as they best way to resolve the current situation.

“I don’t see a conflict of interest there,” Burger agreed, adding that she “is involved in so many things in the community, the question is, did she stand to gain financially.”

Manson explained there are two types of conflict defined in the community charter, that of people having a direct financial interest, in which case they must withdraw, or any other interest, in which case they have the opportunity to withdraw.

“I can’t see where Carrie would have had any pecuniary (financial) interest,” he summed up.

While Broekhuizen’s letter points to specific quotes from Powell-Davidson in The News at the time, Burger pointed out that there were many things said by many councillors in the discussion — not all of which were published in The News.

“That was just her perspective. I don’t think she was leading the conversation,” Burger said.

In the article Powell-Davidson praises the idea of the live music and is generally supportive but said the Beach Club didn’t do enough to solicit community support.

Powell-Davidson stated, therefore, that she had to listen to the opposition.

“These and other comments made by councillor Powell-Davidson were both erroneous and offensive, given the fact that The Beach Club Resort was extremely proactive in pursuing the appropriate changes,” Broekhuizen states in the letter, but doesn’t describe what they did, except that they complied with all city requests.

“We are locals too, who love our home and are proud to support it in every way we can. For the City of Parksville council to paint a bleak, non-community-minded picture of The Beach Club Resort and its staff is misguided and unfair.”

Broekhuizen concludes by asking council strike down that decision and hold a new meeting without Powell-Davidson.

Burger said he doesn’t see them revisiting that decision and the city will respond directly to the Beach Club in a letter, but he said he is speaking to the media since the Beach Club sent their letter to the media.

He added that the liquor license is administered by the provincial Liquor Control Licensing Branch and it is not up to the city, they are only asked for an endorsement, which the LCBC is not obligated to listen to either way.

Broekhuizen could not be reached for comment, including whether the LCBC had rejected their application, but responded by e-mail stating: “The Beach Club Resort will continue to comply with all city bylaws when hosting outdoor events and weddings… [We] look forward to working with the City of Parksville on a positive resolution to our entertainment endorsement change request to play ambient outdoor music with patron participation.”

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