Tanner wants referendum on fire hall in Qualicum Beach

The town is hosting a public information meeting about the new fire hall at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre April 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Qualicum Beach Town Hall houses the town council chambers

Scott Tanner wants a referendum so Qualicum Beach residents can vote on whether or not they want the town to borrow money to build a new fire hall.

The town councillor put forward a notice of motion at council’s regular meeting on Monday night, saying he will ask council to instruct staff to lay out the process for such a referendum.

Tanner said Tuesday he supports the construction of the new fire hall and believes any such referendum would pass.

“The history of Qualicum Beach is that it has always been debt-free,” Tanner said. “I feel, considering the history, it’s only fair the taxpayers have a say in this.”

Council has already passed motions related to how the town is going to pay for the fire hall (unofficial estimates have ranged from $3 million to $4.5 million) and the plan does not reach the provincial-government-mandated threshold of borrowing that requires a referendum. Coun. Mary Brouilette asked Tanner Monday night if he wanted a referendum despite the fact it’s not required by law.

Tanner said Tuesday he believes the way council has passed the borrowing plan for the new fire hall has “short-circuited the democratic process.”

It seems clear any motion related to a referendum on the fire hall won;t get the required votes on council.

“I don’t think we need a referendum because it’s been in the fnancial plan for four or five years,” Mayor Teunis Westbroek said Tuesday.

“Let the politics begin,” Coun. Dave Willie said Monday after Tanner made his notice of motion.

“Every decision I make when I’m in that room (council chambers) is a political decision,” Tanner said Tuesday in response to Willie’s comment.

Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer said Tuesday he doesn’t believe Tanner is in favour of the new fire hall’s construction.

“He has not been a supporter from the get-go,” said Luchtmeijer. “I honestly believe Scott Tanner is trying to delay the process or stymie the process.”

“What bothers me more than anything else,” Willie said Tuesday, “is it is a political ploy. I think most people understand it is the responsibility of an elected council that the general public is well protected.”

The town is hosting a public information meeting about the new fire hall in the civic centre April 22, scheduled to begin after the regular council meeting ends at approximately 7:30 p.m. Tanner could introduce his motion at the council meeting April, but he said he expects he would do so at a subsequent meeting.

In relation to the public information meeting April 22, the town issue an advisory Tuesday stating: “A public presentation of the space needs and site development options will be given by Kim Johnston and Associates.”