EDITORIAL: Slippery slopes

We applaud Qualicum Beach town councillor Dave Willie for his pledge to make the town's governance more transparent

It’s election day, and we have decided not to publish any opinions — in this space, in columns, in letters to the editor — related to provincial decision day. We have a smattering of news stories and information related to the election in today’s edition, but we feel the best way to express an opinion today for everyone involved is at the ballot box. Please vote.

Never short of opinions, we do offer today some comments on other happenings in Parksville Qualicum Beach.

• Dave Willie is walking a slippery slope.

The Qualicum Beach town councillor says he is going to start releasing information from in-camera meetings in the form of motions at regular, open council meetings.

He says his motives relate to a need for a more open government and transparency in Qualicum Beach, and no media outlet worth its salt would oppose such a move on those terms.

We, of course, welcome more transparency and open government, especially in Qualicum Beach, where rumor and innuendo are running rampant and need to be backed, or not, by some facts. To that end, we have submitted a few Freedom of Information requests to the town.

We hope Willie wasn’t just trying to score political points and intends to back up his promises related to open-council motions. It’s a slippery slope because there are good reasons for some matters (ie. personnel decisions, land purchases/sales) to be kept behind closed doors. And there are laws in place to ensure these matters stay behind closed doors, plus potential civil action.

However, some municipalities and organizations have been known to use those laws to keep too much information from the public, especially in relation to the use of tax dollars. We applaud Willie, and we expect him to back up his promise.

• Did you see the graph we published on page three Thursday, as supplied by the City of Parksville related to their budget and, more specifically, where the city spends its money?

The use of the word ‘welfare’ on the pie chart was liberal, to say the least. Economic welfare, organizational welfare and community/social welfare accounted for more than $3 million of the budget.

We hope to provide a better explanation of these odd terms in future editions and will reserve cheeky comment until we do so.

— Editorial by John Harding

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