Town of Qualicum Beach Coun. Teunis Westbroek has decided to use some of his own money to help the St. Andrews Lodge Historical and Cultural Society.
Westbroek made the commitment as he was disappointed that the society’s efforts to advance the St. Andrews Lodge project has been slowed in council. He said he would pay for the BC Hydro bill being charged to the society for heating the lodge and also a consultant’s fee.
At its regular meeting held on April 7, staff presented two recommendations. Director of planning Luke Sales indicated as they have no staff members well-versed on Statement of Significance, it was recommended council direct staff to hire a heritage consultant. And once the consultant has confirmed the heritage value of the lodge, staff be directed to include the old building in the town’s heritage register, in the B.C. Register of Historic Places, and the Canadian Register of Historic Places.
The Statement of Significance provides details what the formal recognition applies to, why the place is important or significant, and which principal features of the place should be retained in order to preserve its heritage value.
Coun. Scott Harrison raised concerns about the cost of hiring a consultant, which Sales confirmed the town would end up paying for.
Harrison reiterated the agreement council had with the society indicated any costs attached to preserve the lodge will be borne by the group. He pointed out the society has already accumulated unpaid expenses that include the hydro bill to keep the lodge heated, and also an outstanding demolition contractor bill of $4,741.
“We’re finding ourselves spending more and more money on the process when the applicant said they would be covering all costs,” said Harrison.
He suggested the staff recommendation be amended to make the society pay for the consultant’s fee.
However, Harrison’s amendment failed as the vote ended in a 2-2 tie. Mayor Brian Wiese and Harrison endorsed it, while Westbroek and Coun. Robert Filmer were against. The original motion also failed due to a 2-2 stalemate.
Filmer said it’s unfair to charge the society hydro bill when it does not have a key to the lodge yet, due to the lease not being finalized.
“It’s pretty wrong of us to say well you still have to pay the bill although you can’t use the building, you can’t utilize the building and you can’t enter the building,” said Filmer, who added that “if you cannot physically use the building, you should not have to pay any of those bills.”
Corporate administrator and deputy CA, Heather Svensen clarified the hydro bills were created due to society’s request that the town put heaters in the building.
“It’s their request,” said Svensen. “They have been given access to the building through staff.”
Westbroek said council should help with the project and to stop “killing the enthusiasm.”
“What we’re doing is undermining them,” said Westbroek. “What we’re doing is not community building. What this people are doing is community building. And if it come’s down to paying a hydro bill I will publicly state right now if that’s an issue, I will pay for it because we need to put some effort into allowing these people to succeed. And I heard comments around in the town that perhaps they’re hoping that it fails so we can tear it down. I don’t like that and I think we should put some support and encourage into it.”
Wiese reminded Westbroek that it was he who pushed the society to proceed with the project and bear the cost.
“That’s something you stated and the group stated that they would pay the bills. I think us holding them into that is a good thing,” said Wiese.
“I hope they get to do the hard work of fundraising and that would put them in a much stronger position,” said Harrison. “And we can see them working hard in good faith. And we can actually start moving forward on things.”
Westbroek decided to again help the society and offer his own money to cover the consultant’s fee.
Council went on to rescind the stalemate on the recommendation to direct staff to hire a consultant to review the Statement of Significance. It was amended to add “at no cost to the town.”
The motion passed unanimously.