Qualicum Beach council has passed a motion indicating a willingness to help the Qualicum Nature Preservation Society.
A motion was released from a recent in-camera council meeting that read as follows: ‘THAT Council instructs staff to provide indication to the QNPS that the Town is willing to assist with advertising and promotion to raise funds to acquire Lot C (Seacroft Estates) from Ballard Fine Homes.’
Coun. Scott Harrison made a motion to reconsider the above, pointing toward social media posts they’ve made about council.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to work with them any further. If they wish to purchase a property on their own volition, I wish them well with those efforts, but I don’t think the town should allocate any staff time or any resources to assist them,” said Harrison.
Filmer said although he agrees that their actions were “disrespectful,” council has to expect to be criticized.
“The people’s job is to hold us accountable for what we say and if we’re going to disagree with the position they’re saying, then so be it, that’s the position we’re going to take,” he said.
The initial motion passed, with councillors Teunis Westbroek, Adam Walker and Filmer voting in favour. Mayor Brian Wiese and Harrison voted in opposition.
Walker also brought forward a notice of motion to invite the QNPS to an in-camera meeting.
The lack of response from the QNPS was discussed at council as well, but the society said they did respond to council’s requests.
“About a month ago, we reached out through our staff to this group to say, you know, ‘we want to work with you,’ we haven’t had any positive feedback saying, ‘great, can we meet and talk about that and see how we can proceed?’ nothing,” said Westbroek.
QBPS president Ezra Morse said in a subsequent interview that he had responded to emails from the town asking if the group would be interested in meeting. Emails throughout late July were exchanged between the society and the town discussing the possibility of meeting. Part of an email from Morse from July 26 read, “After some discussion, the only specific proposal that we can forward at this time would be to meet and discuss this effort in a more fluid manner.”
“We deserve leaders who want to look after our taxpayer money, who want to look after our environment and wants our town to look beautiful,” he said. “And the bottom line is that we have these political games where they spend taxpayer money and 15 minutes talking about an environmental group that exists on Facebook, it’s quite sad, the state of affairs.”
However, Morse said he does view the town’s motion passing as a step in the right direction. Although Morse said the idea of purchasing the Seacroft Estates is in the very beginning stages, the QNPS are open to talking about different ways that could happen.
“We’re very interested in talking with them, you know, I think that it’s important that they did vote, that they did say that it’s important to our community to preserve this land, I think that’s a big step, because for a long time they really sided with the developers,” he said. “So, the good news is that there does seem to be a dramatic shift and we’re looking forward and we remain enthusiastic about meeting, and we really want that to happen. We always have.”