Town of Qualicum Beach staff have been removing benches in the community. (PQB News file photo)

Town of Qualicum Beach staff have been removing benches in the community. (PQB News file photo)

Qualicum Beach residents upset town staff members have been removing benches

CAO explains removals a matter of maintenance and sponsorship expiry

Some residents are asking why the Town of Qualicum Beach is removing benches in the community.

Those living in the Primrose Street and Sixth Street areas have noticed the missing benches and they want to know why.

Tony Whitney indicated that several areas have contacted the municipality and council members but have had no clear answers received.

“Council should need no reminder Qualicum Beach has the highest age demographic of any town in Canada,” said Whitney. “Benches in our area have been consistently enjoyed by people using walkers and by folks with other mobility problems. For many, a healthful walk is not possible without being able to sit on a bench for a while during the trek.”

Town CAO Daniel Sailland acknowledged staff members do remove benches from time to time for a number of reasons that range from sponsorship expiry through to regular maintenance or refurbishing.

Currently, the town has 180 active benches and 36 vacated locations, removed between August of 2017 and August of 2021.

“There was a larger portion of removals that took place this year and this was due to the fact that they had reached their expiry date; our insurer reminded us of the importance of adhering to our policy regarding expiry dates: and the extreme heat resulted in less roadside maintenance (for fire prevention reasons) and thus more available staff resources for addressing benches,” Sailland explained.

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“Although some of the benches that were removed will be refurbished and returned, the majority were sponsored benches that have expired and have been removed per our policy. We don’t typically replace a sponsored bench unless the existing or a new sponsor has come forward to sponsor a bench for that location.”

Sailland pointed out the insurance portion of the equation is equally important as the town could be legally liable for any injuries that may occur on an expired bench.

“I know that council has expressed a strong desire to revisit our policy, especially as it pertains to the removal of sponsored benches,” said Sailland. “I expect that staff will have a more comprehensive report on the matter in the near future and that council will consider changes to the policy which guides staff activities.”

Whitney indicated the town should encourage more seniors to walk and not remove the rest benches that provide them with some relief.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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