Qualicum Beach councillors working together, better

Everything is going to be all right in Qualicum Beach. That was the tone of The News’ conversation with mayor Teunis Westbroek last week.

Qualicum Beach mayor Teunis Westbroek

Qualicum Beach mayor Teunis Westbroek

Everything is going to be all right in Qualicum Beach.

That was the tone of The News’ conversation with mayor Teunis Westbroek when the paper sat down with him to get a feel for the state of the town, after the summer lull. (The News had a similar opportunity with Parksville mayor Chris Burger earlier this month).

After a rocky start, to say the least, with the new council makeup presenting even the most casual observer with cause for concern, relations between the mayor and councillors have been levelling out. Why, they have even had the occasion to agree with one another.

What Westbroek said all councillors agree on, is that Qualicum Beach has a very unique sense of place.

“A community needs that,” he said, adding the addition of green space near The Old School House arts centre, while at first controversial among the politicians, has found some level of acceptance.

“It’s someplace green, that you don’t have to pay to go.”

Westbroek’s comments are a little like justification of the town’s purchase of the space, along with the former school district bus garage next door. While vilified early on by councillors Dave Willie and Bill Luchtmeijer for a decision of past council, Westbroek has found that as the town took advantage of the site, the residents have reacted positively.

It is one of many issues that finds Westbroek in a polarizing position on council — him and councillor Scott Tanner often find themselves in a minority situation. Yet, Westbroek isn’t publicly complaining about the situation.

“Council, from the public’s perspective, is doing a good job in watching our expenditures and looking out for the town’s further needs,” he explained.

These days, the mayor said outward displays of disagreement aren’t as bas an issue as they were in, say, January.

“It’s the respect shown and willingness to listen and change minds when needed that has improved things,” he said. “It’s very positive. I have to be positive, and I’m always looking for that positive side.”

Challenges to that outlook do exist, as the mayor finds himself at odds with the majority of council on the Village Neighbourhood Plan. While he disagrees with the movement towards low development cost charges downtown, potentially higher buildings and low town fees for developers, Westbroek said all of this won’t change the downtown core in the long run.

“Are we (the town) the only ones that are going to have to contribute to this (the cost of developments to the community),” he asked. “I don’t feel the town should be the only ones taking a hit.”

His main concern is that he feels the change in policies driven by council, erodes some of the town’s control over these issues. Yet, he admits the town retains some level of control — such as its advisory groups, design panels and more.

For that reason, he said he doesn’t think there will be any grandiose changes in the downtown area.

Next month, the town begins work on its five-year financial plan. It will contain a council wish list of projects and budget priorities — from road works to a new fire hall.

That last one, Westbroek said, is a big ticket item and the town has been planning for it for a while. Past councils, he said, negotiated for a piece of land (where the Berwick reservoir is today) to house a new hall one day. Two years ago, council increased taxes to include a portion going towards a new building — something the town had done with the town hall building. The reason for doing it this way, he said, was to lessen the burden on taxpayers and not take the entire amount in one fell swoop.

“We are in a position now where I could see this happen between two to five years, without seeking tax increases.”

He hopes to exhaust all grant options, but admitted Qualicum Beach will probably end up borrowing some money.

He stands by past directives to upgrade the existing hall to accommodate new trucks. The town has a regular fire equipment replacement policy, that is not waiting for a new hall.

These issues and more will be on the table come time to debate the financial plan.

In the meantime, Westbroek has found time to relax.

In partnership with Parksville mayor Chris Burger and the Oceanside Tourism Association, he was part of the National Relaxation Day initiative that went around the country in media outlets big and small.

What that did for Qualicum Beach, he explained, was give him and Burger the chance to talk and find common ground on local issues, important to both communities.

“Chris and I ended up building a better relationship,” he continued. “It’s a little thing, but good for both communities to know their mayors get along.”

In the end, Westbroek said he’s looking forward to a productive fall, working with a council he knows will work hard for the community.

“We can always do better,” he said, “but council through the years — and for longer than I’ve been around — has worked hard to make sure Qualicum Beach is one of the nicest places to live.”

Just Posted

The Parksville Civic and Technology Centre at 100 Jensen Ave. (PQB News file photo)
Parksville 2020 annual report now ready for public feedback

Documents can be viewed online; comments or questions to be submitted before noon on July 5, 2021

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased in Parksville

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Most Read