Qualicum Beach residents express concern about phone survey

Town of Qualicum Beach issues statement Tuesday saying it has nothing to do with the poll

A phone poll currently taking place in Qualicum Beach is “a sham and fraud,” according to one Qualicum Beach resident.

At Monday night’s town council meeting, a couple of residents shared their concern about a phone poll that is calling itself the Qualicum Beach Quality of Life Survey.

Neil Horner said the poll must be directed by council since that was the name of the town’s survey during the last Official Community Review process. But he questioned why it was asking people their opinion of him.

“I’m assuming that it’s yours because it sounds very much like the OCP review process, is it not?” he asked Mayor Teunis Westbroek during the public comments portion of the meeting.

Westbroek said council doesn’t normally answer questions from the gallery in this portion of the meeting, but he did confirm that neither council nor staff was conducting a Quality of Life phone poll survey.

“This seems to be attempting to be something it’s not because they are labelling themselves this way. Dare I say it’s a sham and a fraud and whoever has anything to do with this should be ashamed of themselves — they’re trying to put one over on the residents of Qualicum Beach,” Horner said.

Graham Riches echoed Horner’s concerns and invited council and town administration to look into the poll and report back at the next public council meeting. He presented a number of questions to councillors that he wanted to see answered, such as who commissioned the survey.

Coun. Mary Brouilette reiterated that the poll was not directed by council. “This council, this staff, had absolutely nothing to do with this survey. It’s not our name, it’s not our questions and if you want to find out then please do so as a private citizen.”

Riches said the poll is an attempt to persuade voters using a survey masquerading as a quality of life survey and council has a responsibility to get to the bottom of it.

The town issued a statement Wednesday stating that the poll was not commissioned by the town, it originates from an Ontario telephone number and the company conducting the poll identifies itself as Logit Group.

In other news from town council’s meeting Monday night:

• The town has amended its sick leave policy. Where staff used to be paid a retirement benefit equal to the unused balance of sick leave of up to 120 days, that has now been reduced to a maximum of 60 days. The News recently learned through a Freedom of Information request that former CAO Mark Brown received $68,184 in accrued sick leave when he retired from the town last October.

• A failing storm sewer culvert on Yambury road in Qualicum Beach should have lasted for 100 years, but is being replaced by the town after only 35.

The comments came from director of engineering Bob Weir.

“I think this is indicative of the kind of development that occurs in the joint approval process of the Regional District and Highways, nobody really looks after these things,” he said.  “Drainage is not anything that the regional district does and highways is only concerned with draining the highway.” He added the structure should have been made with more resilient material like concrete. Weir said the culvert was built by private developers who were trying to minimize costs and in turn kept “daisy-chaining” the drainages together, resulting in the failure.

• Shaw will not be permitted to locate indoor access points to all Wi-Fi customers in Qualicum Beach, but instead can place them in outdoor locations owned by the town.

“The reason is for the minimal amount of financial compensation it would be potentially a liability on the town to have to provide access outside of hours.”

Tanner said he supports having outside access points only because Wi-Fi could have potential health concerns and some of the people working in the town’s buildings may not agree with having it.

• Some improvements are being made to allow better access to the new Qualicum Beach Elementary School, formerly Qualicum Beach Middle School. Town staff received approval from council to upgrade a cedar chip trail to a gravel trail connecting Hoy Lake road to the northeast corner of the school’s playing field. The turnaround adjacent to the Grandon Creek strata development will be widened and some alder trees will be removed at the intersection of Canyon Crescent and Hoy Lake Raod West to improve pedestrian safety. Longterm proposed improvements include the creation of a wide, paved, multiuse pathway on the south side of Hoy Lake road adjacent to the railway tracks, similar to the construction of the Dollymount trail in East Qualicum Beach.

• The Qualicum Beach Curling Club will get $2,000 from the town, which includes in-kind services, to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Coun. Scott Tanner said it was ironic that the City of Parksville was taxing its curling club to the tune of $16,000 a year while Qualicum Beach is financially assisting its club. Brouilette said that was unfair to say as Qualicum Beach is celebrating 50 years while Parksville’s club is quite a bit younger. She said Qualicum Beach and its taxpayers have supported the survival of its curling rink over the years. “I don’t think that was quite the point—but nevermind…” responded mayor Teunis Westbroek to an eruption of laughter from the gallery.

• The Qualicum Beach Downtown Business Association got the go-ahead to expand its Summer Market for one-day as a test-run. It will close traffic and open up the market to the TD Bank area on Second Avenue on August 28 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Staff will also review the possibility of running the expanded market next year.