(PQB News file photo)

(PQB News file photo)

Qualicum Beach voters head back to the polls on May 15

Byelection will be held to replace former councillor (now MLA) Adam Walker

Qualicum Beach residents will head to the polls on May 15 to elect a new councillor to replace Adam Walker, now the MLA for Parkville-Qualicum.

Town council, with Coun. Robert Filmer returning following a two-month medical leave of absence, endorsed Heather Svenson to be the chief election officer at the its regular council meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 24. The town’s deputy corporate administrator, Haylee Gould, was named the deputy chief election officer.

Filmer expressed some disappointment that it took so long to get the byelection going. He understands one of the reasons is because he was on leave but felt council could have gone ahead with it sooner.

“I know there was advice given by the province and I would love to see that advice whether it was written or verbal to see why they would recommend because I was gone,” said Filmer. “Even before that, we had an opportunity to call a byelection before I had to take a leave.”

“They (Ministry of Municipal Affairs) supported our decision,” said Svenson. “The support of the decision was we did not want to call two byelections. It was uncertain whether you [Filmer] would return. So we did not want the expense to the taxpayers to have two byelections.”

One of the other issues council addressed was Coun. Teunis Westbroek’s notice of motion for a referendum question to be added on the ballot that would ask electors if they are in favour of increasing the town’s number of councillors from four to six (plus the mayor) effective Oct. 15, 2022.

The motion failed when the voting ended up in a split, with Filmer also in favour and Mayor Brian Wiese and Coun. Scott Harrison opposed.

Westbroek indicated he has noticed in the last 25 years, particularly this term, that the issues are coming more often to council and have become more complex. He said he would favour having more councillors.

“I think we need to at least ask the public whether they think we’re ready for a six-person council,” said Westbroek. “That doesn’t mean we’re now all of a sudden a city. We stay the same. There are many towns as big as us that have six member councillors and a mayor. So I don’t think that’s the issue. But I do believe it will create better communication, more people, working committees, attending to functions, talking to people, listening to people and I think it will generally result in a more wholesome debate.”

RELATED: Qualicum Beach residents want town council to consider adding extra voices

Harrison did not agree to do it during a byelection.

“If we want to do this during the general election that would be perfectly acceptable,” said Harrison, who added the issue with byelctions was a usually lower voter turnout.

Harrison also added that the COVID-19 pandemic is still a concern and he doesn’t expect more people would participate in the byelection. He pointed out that the last provincial elections had the largest mail-in ballots in history but it was the lowest turnout in the 21st century of any provincial election.

“So putting a referendum question when we’re already dealing with the pandemic and it’s a byelection, you’re not really asking the full public who would show up for general election,” said Harrison.

Filmer said Qualicum Beach residents are very engaging and would vote either by going to the polling stations or via mail-in ballots. He is confident Svenson, who was voted as the chief elector official, would be able to fully organize proper mail-in ballots and handle them properly.

“I fully support having this question on the byelection because it prepares us for the next election,” said Filmer. “If we put this in the 2022 election, that’s four more years of a five-person council and that’s the frustration that we’ve been hearing from people.”

Wiese was puzzled why the issue has suddenly come out and become a concern.

“This never crossed my desk,” said Wiese. “No one has ever brought it up that we need more councillors. It wasnt until we lost Adam (Walker) our MLA and we lost Robert (Filmer) for a short time and we were down to three that I actually heard some comments about the size of our council. And you know bigger is not always better. I don’t believe that. I am not going to speak in favour of this but I will support it in the next election if you want to put a referendum then.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

municipal politicsqualicum beach

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Town of Qualicum Beach is set to hold a byelection on May 15. (PQB News file photo)
Restaurant owners Oura and Kymon Giakoumakis visit the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: COVID-19 pandemic hits food service industry hard

Podcast: Parksville Qualicum Beach restaurant owners share thoughts and advice

The St. Andrews Lodge Historical and Cultural Society wants the old building included in the Town of Qualicum Beach’s Heritage Register. (PQB News file photo)
Qualicum Beach councillor offers to help pay St. Andrews Lodge society’s bills

Group wants building included in town’s heritage register

Ballenas Secondar School (PQB News file photo)
COVID-19: Another exposure reported at Parksville’s Ballenas Secondary

Public health staff are completing contact tracing

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards South Island film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s help in identifying the man suspected of being involved in a stabbing. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP trying to identify stabbing suspect who wielded rusty knife

Stabbing followed argument between two men at Port Place Shopping Centre April 1

The inside of the Campbell River Community Centre gymnasium has been marked off in order to facilitate the public flowing through the clinic as they receive their COVID-19 vaccination. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell river Mirror
Leftover vaccines go into arms, not down the drain: Island Health

Immunization plan comes with built-in options for any unused vaccines at the end of the day

Most Read