Qualicum Beach votes 2021: Candidates answer key questions

(File photo)(File photo)
Brian Denbigh. (Submitted photo)Brian Denbigh. (Submitted photo)
Sarah Duncan. (Submitted photo)Sarah Duncan. (Submitted photo)
Peter Kent. (Submitted photo)Peter Kent. (Submitted photo)
Anne Skipsey. (Submitted photo)Anne Skipsey. (Submitted photo)
Jean Young. (Submitted photo)Jean Young. (Submitted photo)

Qualicum Beach voters return to the polls on May 15 for a byelection to fill the vacant council slot left after Adam Walker was elected MLA for Parksville-Qualicum. The PQB News asked each of the five registered candidates (presented in alphabetical order) to submit answers to three questions. For more byelection coverage, visit www.pqbnews.com.

•••

Brian Denbigh

1. What do you feel is the most pressing issue currently facing QB council?

I believe one of the main issues facing Qualicum Beach council is managing our urban growth. This is definitely a balancing act for so many reasons; citizens views; federal, provincial and municipal laws and regulations; and environment.

2. How will you balance the needs of seniors and those of younger residents?

Excellent question, not a simple answer. Qualicum is a unique municipality that over the years has attracted many people looking for a wonderful place to retire, myself included. However, we require young people to keep the diversity and health of Qualicum.

I feel we have an excellent guide in the Official Community Plan to help us achieve a cohesive plan to work towards these goals.

3. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

As you can see, I’m not a man of many words. You don’t get a lot of fluff or promises that realistically I couldn’t provide. First and foremost, I enjoy working with people and problem solving. What you get is someone with years of exceptional municipal government experience which will definitely be an asset to the citizens of Qualicum Beach.

CONTACT: brian.denbigh@shaw.ca; 250-797-5203

•••

Sarah Duncan

1. What do you feel is the most pressing issue currently facing QB council?

The most pressing issues currently facing council are housing and health care. There is a serious lack of housing in the Parksville Qualicum Beach region, and the rising cost of housing is quickly outpacing the income levels of many. Young people who are looking to enter the market often cannot afford the down payment on a home. There is also a lack of rentals and an endless stream of people seeking a place to call home. I also understand there to be a lack of availability in both mid-level and higher-end homes. The other key issue is health care. With our older demographic and an influx of people moving to our region it is not uncommon to hear that residents cannot find a doctor locally and must travel to a neighbouring community, sometimes as far as Campbell River, to visit a general practitioner. Our Oceanside Health Centre is often very busy and is focused mainly on urgent care. Unfortunately, this health care issue is not unique to Qualicum Beach and the solution will need to come from both the municipalities in conjunction with the provincial and federal governments.

2. How will you balance the needs of seniors and those of younger residents?

This is an important question. Having grown up in Qualicum Beach, I remember being a youth and feeling like our town lacked balance between the needs of seniors and our younger residents. The key to finding balance begins with open communication and understanding the needs and wants of all residents. For example, ensuring there is plenty of open and accessible green space for all to enjoy, such as beach access, parks, and trails, is an important factor for our children and youth as well as our senior citizens. I am also in support of hosting and facilitating multigenerational events and activities. Examples of this include the alphabet garden that was created in town, and activities hosted at the senior’s centre where our elders taught children basic life skills. Traditionally, our downtown festivals have attracted all generations and have seen high engagement. We need to support increasing and maintaining services for our youth – artificial turf fields, BMX track, skate park, basketball hoops. There is great wisdom in our youth; they are our future, and their ideas deserve to be heard. There is great wisdom in our seniors; the transfer of knowledge and skills is a huge asset to our youth.

3. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

My character, values and my integrity set me apart from all other candidates. I was raised in Qualicum Beach and it gives me immense gratitude to now be raising my own family here. I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and have proven myself to be an effective manager and leader in business. I believe in balanced growth that will refresh and rejuvenate our local economy, including increased housing and tourism accommodations as well as commercial space. I value diversity, inclusion, transparency, and equality. I see the importance of increasing tourism while still offering that small-town charm that captures each visitor’s heart. I deeply value our natural environment; preserving, maintaining, and enhancing the beauty of our town. We must respect and protect the beaches, trails, forests and waterways that are all right here in our backyard. I believe strongly in respectful communication, inclusive of the town residents’ input, while balancing the needs of all residents as well as our business sector without sacrificing one set of values for another. I have the courage and integrity to execute the best decision without bias or prejudice.

CONTACT: www.sarahduncan.ca; on Facebook at Sarah Duncan for Qualicum Beach council; vote@sarahduncan.ca

•••

Peter Kent

1. What do you feel is the most pressing issue currently facing QB council?

Right now, I feel it comes down to restoring a sense of teamwork as the most pressing issue. For several months, our council has been short a seat, lots of big agenda items have been brought forward, and we’ve had a councillor go on medical leave. It concerns me that there has not been full representation for our town. Bringing back public trust, inclusion, and high-calibre leadership is needed more than ever with just a year and a half left of this term. The learning curve is steep when first elected, lots of summits and seminars to attend to learn the ropes in new terms and there isn’t opportunity for that this late. We need a candidate with strong shoulders, experience and a positive track record right now to carry the remainder of the term. We need transparency, someone listening to questions brought forward and giving honest answers. After spending four years serving as a town councillor in Squamish, I’d love nothing more than to share my positive experiences, skill sets and collaboration with town hall. Let’s focus our energy into finishing off this term on a high note, as a robust cohort and one that we are proud of together.

2. How will you balance the needs of seniors and those of younger residents?

This town is what attracted our family to plant roots here over 100 years ago and it’s a town I hope to keep families thriving in for the next 100 years and beyond.

We must preserve the past, take action in the present, and pursue a dynamic future inclusive to all ages while shielding our green spaces, beaches and artistic charm. It’s important to me that our community is forward thinking, vibrant, that we nurture our neighbourhoods with housing for all needs, whether that be affordable or senior housing. I believe I can relate to all ages and cultures from personal experiences. After finishing my council term in Squamish in 2018 where we had a median age of 37 to moving back to Qualicum Beach where our median age is 67, I’ve participated on many committees inclusive of youth and seniors to appreciate both demographics.

I understand what it’s like to raise a family in Qualicum Beach, lose my aging mother in Qualicum Beach and all the supports required to care for elders, while also remembering I’m 63 years young myself! Whether we grow families or grow older, we grow together as a community.

3. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

I believe my background and life experience is what sets me apart from other candidates. I’ve been the Island boy who packed his bags in his 20s and went to Hollywood hoping to pursue big dreams in TV/film and fortunate enough to catch a break stunt doubling the biggest action star in history (Schwarzenegger) for 15 of my 35 years in TV/film. I’m proud of that! Working for so many years in TV/film taught me teamwork, collaboration, preparedness, creativity and business sense. As voters, picture yourself as the employer and I am a candidate being interviewed for your position. Would you hire someone at a very pressing time in your business with zero experience or would you carefully consider a resume readily equipped with the skills, references and eagerness needed to hit the ground running? I enjoyed serving as town councillor in Squamish (2014-2018) and I’d love to have the opportunity to contribute to our Qualicum Beach in the same capacity for the remaining term. A vote for Peter Kent doesn’t just represent Peter Kent. It represents my family and I working hard for you proudly with community engagement and positive example. It’s a vote for you!

CONTACT: 250-327-3227; Kent4QB@gmail.com; Facebook: Peter Kent for Qualicum Beach Council.

•••

Anne Skipsey

1. What do you feel is the most pressing issue currently facing QB council?

The most pressing issue currently facing QB council is understanding that the Qualicum Beach of tomorrow will be defined by many of the decisions we make today. Do we follow our community’s shared vision and values as reflected in the Official Community Plan?

Our town hall must operate very effectively in order to address all of today’s opportunities and challenges. I will support the adoption of a council code of conduct, and be a strong advocate for greater transparency and more meaningful open two-way dialogue with the community. A much needed “operations review” is scheduled for this fall to assess the town’s capacity to deal with pressing issues.

Some of my priorities include supporting local businesses now and post-pandemic; accelerating plans for providing a diversity of housing options to support social and economic needs; advancing both the Tree and Vegetation Management Plan/Bylaw and the March 2020 federally-funded Climate Change Adaptation Plan; advocating for local recycling facilities; retaining the Eaglecrest 18-hole golf course, and more. My vision is to preserve the character of our town while embracing the opportunities change will bring. Our council must be better aligned with community values and be more prudent on spending our taxpayer dollars.

2. How will you balance the needs of seniors and those of younger residents?

My response to this question remains consistent. All residents, regardless of age, benefit from community infrastructure and services such as recreational facilities and trail systems, clean drinking water, safe roads and efficient transportation systems. After all, a great place to work and raise a family is a great place to be retired.

It is essential to have both seniors and younger residents represented in community discussion and decision-making. This involves understanding how to connect with different demographics. For example, holding public hearings at 10 a.m. is not conducive to the participation of those who work in the community. And, as we continue to define housing options (i.e. rentals, co-operatives, different ownership options) it will be critical that council effectively reaches out, listens and acts accordingly.

I have actively volunteered with a cross-section of organizations to create intergenerational opportunities as well as activities to help build community, a sense of belonging and create mutual respect and understanding.

3. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

This byelection is different from a general election where elected officials have time to get up to speed. With just 17 months left in this council term, the successful candidate will need to hit the ground running.

My degree in Business Administration from Simon Fraser University, my 15 years experience with the City of Burnaby gaining knowledge and experience in the inner workings of local government, and my prior service as a Qualicum Beach town councillor from 2014-2018, all uniquely qualify me.

In addition, I have a record of community volunteerism and engagement in a wide range of areas, most recently playing a leadership role in saving St. Andrews Lodge and forming the Society; board member of the QB Residents’ Association; co-chair of the Qualicum Community Education and Wellness Society; a participant with the school board’s climate action task force and others. (I am currently on leave from all of these positions during the campaign.)

I have the experience, I have done the job and know the commitment it takes. I have a vision and am ready to work as a councillor for the people of Qualicum Beach.

CONTACT: 250-228-6441; arskipseyqb@gmail.com; anneskipsey.ca; On Facebook: Anne Skipsey for Council.

•••

Jean Young

1. What do you feel is the most pressing issue currently facing QB council?

Open communication, transparency and collaboration between council and the community. We need to be consistently consulted and informed about what is happening in our town.

For example, when the Bus Garage property was sold, it would have been interesting to see the three design proposals before a final decision was made.

The community has questions about how council makes decisions, and has a right to hear the answers to those questions. The community should have access to the results of traffic studies, stakeholder consultations, and any proposals regarding Qualicum Beach town property before sales and projects are completed, so that concerns can be addressed and be part of the decision-making process. It also helps town council to have a clear understanding of any local and contextual issues surrounding those decisions.

Public participation can and should influence the decisions that are made in council. We live in Qualicum Beach and are directly affected by these decisions. This is why open communication, transparency and collaboration between council and the community is so important. If comprehensive public consultation takes place, the people of Qualicum Beach and the town council will know that these decisions were made in the best interest of our town.

2. How will you balance the needs of seniors and those of younger residents?

Many of the needs of older and younger residents of Qualicum Beach are the same. A range of appropriate and affordable housing options (for sale and rent) is needed. With the real estate boom low-income seniors and young people are struggling to afford to stay here.

Having multigenerational housing that is pet-friendly, continued availability of recreational facilities like a larger pool and more sports activities indoors and outdoors, community gathering places whether in the way of shared gardens, theatres, beach activities are just some of the mutual and beneficial needs.

Adequate availability of services in the health care sector and other professional needs are vital. Whether young or older we are all concerned about the environment and sustainability. We are a community and we care about each other and want each other to be safe, well cared for, and to be provided with the opportunities we need to thrive.

Financial stability and the economic status of the town affects everyone. This ensures that the town can provide the vital programs in our community that support the physical and psychological well-being of everyone. Our smalltown politics should set the stage for a town built on cooperation and strength in diversity.

3. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

My longterm involvement, commitment and love for our town. I am the candidate with the smallest signs and the biggest heartfelt message of caring, collaboration and commitment. For more than 25 years I have owned and managed a retail business in Qualicum Beach. I have raised my three children here into young adults with a well-rounded education and life experience.

In recent years I have had the time to be a director on various boards such as QB Chamber of Commerce, Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association and Oceanside Women’s Business Network as well as rallying a group of volunteers to operate the annual Uptown Market. My experience with being on the various boards and operating my retail store has shown me that strategic plans and goals are important for achieving success.

Uniquely, I am not sequestered in an office, my store allows easy access for anyone to meet with me. I would like to contribute my skills to help to ensure that Qualicum Beach grows in a thoughtful, well-planned direction, while maintaining the integrity of our lovely town.

I am non-partisan, I promise to work hard for you, and stay true to the values of this unique and exceptional community.

CONTACT: jeanyoung52@gmail.com; 250-937-0608.

— NEWS Staff, submitted

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