Councillor Dave Willie did not recuse himself from a vote on Monday night, despite being accused of being in a conflict-of-interest on the matter by a local couple.
At the last Qualicum Beach council meeting in August, Fox and Deb McKinley e-mailed a package to Willie and others at council, minutes before the meeting started, suggesting that Willie was in direct conflict because his company had and continues to have business dealings with Pheasant Glen Golf Course. The suggestion was that if Pheasant Glen is able to proceed with development plans for housing, a new clubhouse and event pavilion, Willie’s pecuniary interests are likely to increase.
Last week, Pheasant Glen owner Craig Dutton sent The NEWS a letter to the editor publicly asking Willie to recuse himself from voting on the golf course’s development application and anything else that may directly benefit Pheasant Glen. Dutton stated this was not because he believed Willie was in a conflict but because the company didn’t want to be drawn into years of debate and legal process.
At Monday’s meeting, Willie responded to the document sent by the McKinleys, saying it was “without any basis of fact.” Willie said Monday night that one of the document’s allegations about a tent being sold to Pheasant Glen by his company was not sold by him to Pheasant Glen, but by a competitor.
“I’d like to point out that the McKinleys certainly went through the list of contributors to my campaign (in their report). They did forget one — a very active member of my campaign — and that was Fox and Deb McKinley themselves.”
Willie said the previous council in 2004 actually approved developing Pheasant Glen, including approving services like sewer and water.
“They made the decision for that development, you can sneer all you like, but they made the decision for that development — it was approved for 160 units to be built on that property.”
Willie concluded that he is in no more conflict now than other councillors might have been when they voted in favour of the 2004 version of the project.
“To (infer) because something grows or you put something out there, that there’s a potential that . . . I might be able to rent an extra cup or saucer, is absolutely ridiculous,” Willie said. “So on that end, I won’t be recusing myself from this vote on the table.”
As for the motion on the table, regarding extending the Growth Containment Boundary, new CAO Daniel Sailland recommended council direct staff to prepare options for a local area planning process for South Qualicum Beach.
“That way we can talk about that specific area away from one specific project and really look at this in a holistic way,” he said, adding that the public can then bring in comments and staff can share information.
The motion passed unanimously.