EDITORIAL: Byelection could provide report card for Parksville city council

Halfway through its mandate, the view from here suggests it hasn't been a banner two years for this group

It was election night in November of 2014 and new Mayor Marc Lefebvre was asked about his priorities for this new council.

“I want to hit the ground running,” Lefebvre told The NEWS. He said there were issues that were going to be front and centre early in the new council’s mandate.

Lefebvre highlighted three issues: the water treatment plant, downtown revitalization and what the city should do with the taxpayer-owned land at the high-profile intersection of Jensen Avenue and the Alberni Highway.

In baseball, a career .333 hitter goes directly to the hall of fame. You can decide if that’s a good enough average for a politician.

We are just about halfway through this council’s four-year term. The water treatment plant was certainly the biggest issue to deal with, and council did that with Lefebvre’s leadership.

Downtown revitalization? Words, but no action. The Jensen-Alberni land? Nothing to report.

Aside from the water treatment plant, this council has distinguished itself only by holding an inordinate amount of in camera, behind-closed-doors meetings. Presumably some of these deal with the Jensen-Alberni land, but the city issues no reports from these meetings, so who knows.

We haven’t seen this amount of secrecy in municipal government in these parts since the Qualicum Beach town council days of 2012-13, but they were dealing with sticky issues related to senior staff, stuff that likely should be discussed behind closed doors (as difficult as that is for any journalist to concede).

Byelections at the provincial and federal government levels are often seen as a chance for voters to provide the ruling parties with a report card. There is no real way, through the ballot box anyway, to send a municipal government a message through a byelection.

Perhaps the current candidates will provide the report card, or at least comment on what they believe has gone wrong, and right, with this city council. We can always count on our readers, through letters to the editor, to provide a running report card, and for that we are thankful.

Like the gone-off-the-rails efforts to combat homelessness here, this city council needs a jolt in the arm. It needs to focus. It needs goals and firm dates to achieve those goals.

The combination of a new member and the debate preceding the election of that new member might be exactly what this city council needs.

— Editorial by John Harding

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