Qualicum Beach council watches letter flap die on the table

Councilors take issue with mayor's opinion in a health centre support letter.

The mayor called it silly, but the council called it a misrepresentation of their wishes, as Qualicum Beach councilors tried to revise a health centre support letter sent by the town to the minister of health and the premier of B.C. back in January.

At the council’s regular meeting Monday night (Feb. 13), councilors Dave Willie and Bill Luchmeijer pointed out that a letter drafted on Jan. 20 – following a council meeting (Jan. 19) at which the town’s position on the proposed new health centre was discussed and voted on – did not represent council’s wishes. Instead, they stated the letter included opinion by mayor Teunis Westbroek.

“People are misinterpreting this as a change in council’s position on the health centre,” said Luchtmeijer. “Council resolved to call it a start of a health centre, but the letter also included criticisms.”

The letter, signed by Westbroek, states council’s support for the health centre, currently under construction in Parksville. It also expresses concern over project delays.

“To criticize the hand that feeds you is irresponsible,” added Luchmeijer.

Coun. Dave Willie said his expectation was the letter would indicate council’s support of the centre as a foundation to build on – with no added opinions.

Coun. Scott Tanner agreed the mayor’s letter on behalf of council went too far, but disagreed with Willie and Luchmeijer over issuing an apology.

“Let’s just leave it at (stating the town’s support),” he said. “Adding the end (the apology) is rubbing a little more salt in the wounds.”

Westbroek said he didn’t mean to drag councilors into any other position on the health centre, saying he was just expressing a frustration he has heard from the public about the health centre.

“I think that this is … silly,” he said of the debate.

“We must be on a different council,” retorted Luchmeijer. “As a council, we have never discussed this. This is not council’s opinion – it’s your opinion.”

In two votes, both an amendment from Tanner to chop the apology portion of a new letter, and the motion to even change the original letter in the first place, died on the table as a result of a split, 2-2 vote.

Coun. Mary Brouilette was not at Monday night’s meeting.