EDITORIAL: Good governance

Just how many handshake, wink-wink, nudge-nudge arrangements are active in Qualicum Beach?

Despite good intentions, some actions can have unintended results.

When we broke the story last week on pqbnews.com about a man living rent-free without a written agreement as a caretaker at the town-owned Heritage Forest, we expected some reaction from elected officials in Qualicum Beach.

When the mayor called us after the story broke and said he would be bringing the issue to town council’s Monday night meeting, we expected there would be talk about the need for written agreements and one would be drafted for this particular situation so both the town and the man living on the property could have some legal/insurance protection.

Instead, through a motion supported by councillors Dave Willie, Bill Luchtmeijer and Mary Brouilette, staff has been instructed to issue the man an eviction notice.

In our view, the story really isn’t about the caretaker. And, as he points out in a letter to the editor today, perhaps his role and his security/maintenance functions at The Stables have been undervalued by these councillors.

The real story is about how the town conducts business. How anyone — senior staff, the mayor — would think there was no need for a written agreement in this situation is beyond comprehension.

With all due respect to country stores out there, it seems like that is how the Town of Qualicum Beach has been operating for some time — the wink-wink, nudge-nudge, run-you-a-tab, handshake-buddy system.

In the litigious world we unfortunately live in, that is unacceptable, potentially putting taxpayers on the hook for some scary settlements.

What’s more, it seems the arrangement with the caretaker is not the only such ‘agreement’ regarding taxpayer-owned facilities in Qualicum Beach, as evidenced by parts of an internal memo we obtained.

For the safety of the town coffers and in the name of professional operations, we urge staff and council to get these out in the open and cleaned up post haste.

 

— Editorial by John Harding