As promised in last year’s civic election, communication is important in Qualicum Beach, despite the lack of a communications officer, say town officials.
“We wanted to reduce our cost, there was no question about that, by reducing the number of exempt staff,” said Mayor Teunis Westbroek of a contract position that ended last year.
Chief Administrative Officer Daniel Sailland said the contract had been for both communications and cultural work and while they’re continuing the cultural work, they let the other part end naturally.
He said they “shifted the communications element internally, so we’ve picked that up with existing staff, and we’ve refocused those funds towards the current posting that’s out, which is a human resources manager,” which he called “a larger priority.”
Asked if council was comfortable with that change Westbroek paused. “I have to be very careful how I say that, I’m going to refer this to our CAO because as a council the only person we hire is our CAO and he reports to council. He then comes up with a structure for senior staff.”
“We are looking to Daniel in terms of how he wants the organization to be structured, how he feels comfortable to manage our community.”
Sailland said while they are focused on hiring an HR person and replacing retiring superintendant Al Cameron, communication “is still a priority for council.”
“I’ve shifted it into a roll of the entire organization, it’s not a singular point, thats where we shifted into training up staff and management in terms of outreach and communication, so we’re investing in that arm, so that the entire organization is better equipped as a whole.”
“It’s a philosophical change, council is aware of it and I shared all that information with them as we were going into this, but ultimately it was an operational decision.”
He was quick to add that Patricia Huntsman, who’d been contracted, did a great job and it wasn’t a reflection on her.
“As council it’s important not to tell the CAO how to do his job,” agreed Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer, but that they are still looking into it.
He added that Qualicum Beach is a particularly tricky place to communicate with residents since some are very plugged into modern media, while others can be very hard to reach.
“We always hear from people that they didn’t know about something.”