(PQB News file photo)

Qualicum Beach residents want town council to consider adding extra voices

Group wants question of council size included on byelection ballot

The Qualicum Beach Residents Association wants town council to consider an increase in size.

The group has written a letter, addressed to Coun. Teunis Westbroek, expressing their concerns that residents are not being served and adequately represented.

“Given the importance of preparing for the future of our town, we need more voices at the ‘decision table,’” the QBRA board stated in their letter. “The current council has the legislative power to increase the size of council by adopting a bylaw at least six months before the Oct. 15, 2022 general local government election.”

What the group suggest is for council to gauge where the community stands and determine if there is a desire to add more members in council.

They want a community opinion question: “Are you in favour of increasing the number of councillors from four to six effective Oct. 15, 2022?” to be included on the ballot during the byelection the town will hold to replace former councillor Adam Walker, now the MLA for Parksville-Qualicum.

During the 2014 municipal election, a similar attempt was made to determine if residents favour adding two more councillors (up from four). The results ended up with 3,090 voting against expansion and 1,304 in favour.

The QBRA board said recent circumstances in Qualicum Beach have resulted in council having only two councillors, Westbroek and Scott Harrison, along with Mayor Brian Wiese. Coun Robert Filmer has been on medical leave.

READ MORE: Grassroots community groups say Qualicum Beach council operates in a ‘Zoom cocoon’

“While this situation still provides a legal quorum, it reduces public representation of elected officials by 40 per cent, which many believe is not fair and balanced representation of the entire community,” the group stated.

They cited examples of other towns of similar size that have six councillors, including Ladysmith.

“This is because the legislation that guides local governments — the Local Government Act and Community Charter — states, by definition, a municipal government with a population of 5,000 must have a council consisting of a mayor and six councillors, unless otherwise established in letters patent or by bylaw,” the group pointed out.

“A seven-person council will be better-positioned to deal with the increasingly complex issues facing this community. It will better serve and represent all of us as we move forward in these difficult times.”

The town has not set a date for the byelection, waiting for Filmer to return from his medical leave.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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