There are still a number of things in town that Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek would like to be a part of, and he says that’s one of the reasons he’ll be running again this fall.
Westbroek said he would like to contribute to the waterfront master plan, including the protection of the shoreline and he would like to see a pier for both residents and tourists.
“It would have a double function to help protect shoreline and also to walk, especially where homes are kind of blocking the sea wall.”
Westbroek has been mayor for 15 years and he said that is an advantage, especially compared with no experience. Plus, he said he still loves his job, most of the time.
“I think I can make a difference — at 61, I believe I still have the energy and motivation to contribute.”
Last week, Qualicum Beach resident Denyse Widdifield announced she would be challenging the mayor in the municipal election in the fall and said in an article in The NEWS that zero growth policies of councils led by Westbroek have hurt the town. Westbroek said he didn’t know what policies she was referring to, and he said there has been, and there is currently, growth happening in the town.
“Qualicum Beach has been widely recognized — we got an award last year in Windsor — for its progressive growth management policies,” he said. “Since I’ve been mayor we’ve had about $200 million in development.”
He said he knows some residents would like the town to grow faster and bigger, but he said that has to be balanced with the costs to taxpayers and quality of life. He supports managed growth, he said, and pointed out that the town can accommodate at least another 4,000 more people without any zoning or boundary changes. As for the Clarion being approved — the first five-story development to get the nod from the town — Westbroek did not vote in favour of the development and said the approval process seemed very quick compared to other developments.
“I think large, multi-story — like five-storey developments — don’t really fit with the ambiance of our town,” he said.
Like Qualicum Beach, many communities on Vancouver Island have struggled with the sustainability of local schools, Westbroek said, particularly with the restricted funding from the provincial government. And although Qualicum Beach Elementary school has now been closed, he is proud of the current and previous councils’ work with school boards to ensure viable schools in the area, he said. Local businesses face a number of challenges, Westbroek said, when asked about the closure of a number of Qualicum Beach stores recently.
“Given the competition with online shopping and big box stores, it’s not easy,” he said. He has heard a number of stores are thriving, however, and he said the town’s business tax is very attractive compared with other municipalities.
Westbroek said he cares about people, he listens to them and tries to stay in touch with residents. When he first ran for council 15 years ago, it was because he agreed with the answers given by the majority of the town’s residents in a quality of life survey, he said.
“It’s up to voters to see if they still share these values and if they have confidence in my skills and my commitment to keep Qualicum Beach the wonderful place it is,” he said.