Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek continues to struggle with the nature and form of the new town council, says Coun. Dave Willie.
A mayor is supposed to convey to town staff and the public alike the consensus of council, Willie said in an interview with The NEWS after the town’s regular council meeting Monday night.
“In the past (before the last election), the mayor was consensus,” said Willie, pointing out that Westbroek is often not on the same side of votes that pass with the current council. “It’s a difficult thing for him to overcome (now) when it comes to staff direction.”
The mayor said Tuesday he was surprised by Willie’s comments, and he said he believes there are old, hard feelings resurfacing. Westbroek has defeated both Willie and current town councillor Bill Luchtmeijer in mayoral races of the past.
“I think they haven’t maybe quite gotten over that,” Westbroek said Tuesday.
As far as Willie’s allegations the mayor is not conveying council’s consensus to staff, Westbroek said “that’s outright nonsense.”
Willie cited an example to back his charge and it relates to what has become one the hottest issues of debate on council, namely when to set aside funds and actually get to the business of building a new fire hall.
Willie said a resident wrote a letter to the town supporting the do-it-now side of the debate and, before the letter was received by council as official correspondence, Willie alleges the mayor forwarded the letter to a different resident who is on the go-slower side of the debate, soliciting a letter of that nature.
“That really concerns me if that’s the type of thing that’s going on,” said Willie.
The mayor said Tuesday he did forward the letter to a resident, but by mistake when he scrolled through addresses on his e-mail program and clicked on the wrong name.
“I’m surprised Dave would say that — shame on him,” said Westbroek, who is serving his sixth term as mayor. “It was an accident — I didn’t mean to send it to that guy.”
There was only one letter related to the fire hall on the list of correspondence items council received for information on Monday night.
As for the nature and form of council, Westbroek made it clear Tuesday he is still not happy this council went against tradition and appointed a councillor — Willie — to represent the town on the board of directors of the Regional District of Nanaimo.
“This council blindsided me by appointing him to the regional district,” said Westbroek. “That started it off in quite a negative tone.”