The upcoming municipal election in November is now going to be a race for the mayor’s chair, after former councillor Mike Wansink this week announced his intention to run for council’s top spot.
Wansink said he made the decision to run because he sees a need for a different style of leadership on council.
Wansink praised incumbent mayor Teunis Westbroek for the job he has done over the past nine years, but stressed that, in light of the new global economic environment, Qualicum Beach needs a new kind of leadership.
“Qualicum Beach has enjoyed improvements to its infrastructure and amenities during the time of regional and national prosperity, however it is time to take a very close look at the town’s capital programs and operations, with a view to freezing or reducing the tax burden on its citizens,” Wansink said.
Wansink said that with a large portion of the town’s population over age 60 and many residents reliant on fixed incomes or investments that are declining in value, continued tax increases in the order of three per cent per year over the past 10 years are not sustainable.
This, he added, is not a time for expensive promises.
Sustainability will be the centre of Wansink’s electoral platform and he stressed that sustainability encompasses social, economic, cultural and environmental realms and the need to balance all four of them within the town’s programs. He said he feels he can provide the leadership, in collaboration with various internal and external entities in town, to ensure that the municipality’s citizens can continue to enjoy the benefits of living in Qualicum Beach.
Wansink said his leadership will not be a threat to the desires of a majority of the town’s residents.
His aim, he said, is to retain the small town atmosphere which attracted people to the town in the first place.
To this end he noted he is not in favour of big box stores, fast food joints or urban sprawl. Rather, he wants to chart a prudent course through uncertain times.
He plans to do this, he said, through collaboration with various community groups, regional and provincial governments, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, the business community and members of the community on the whole. In this way, he suggested, Qualicum Beach can achieve sustainability.
“We can achieve more together than apart,” he said. “I would like to see some new vitality in the town.”
Wansink has little time, he added, for what he sees as divisive and parochial positions that he sees as having been impediments to co-operation between various elements within the community.
Although Wansink conceded it will be a challenge to unseat the incumbent mayor, he believes many in the electorate will welcome some positive change.
“Change need not be threatening to the town, but can make it even better,” he said. “It is healthy to have a new perspective on the leadership of the town’s future.
He pledged to continue to use the recently-passed official community plan as a guide to the improvements he sees as needed.