EDITORIAL: Tale of two towns

Different approaches and priorities for Parksville and Qualicum Beach

There is currently a glaring difference in how the two most populous communities in our region are governed.

Both are facing virtually the same economic pressures. Both have made some strides recently with infrastructure projects and both face daunting and expensive capital projects in 2013 and the years ahead.

The mayor of Parksville, Chris Burger, acknowledges the tough times businesses are facing but he is looking forward, providing leadership and some positive vibes about what can and will be done with the future of his city.

Burger is speaking about getting in the history books with an innovative water storage plan. He is also trying to promote and create more interest in what is quickly becoming our favourite project, a $2.5 million, 2.5-kilometre greenway linking Rathtrevor Provincial Park and Parksville Community Park.

Meanwhile in Qualicum Beach, Mayor Teunis Westbroek has tried to sound a positive chord, especially about the future of that town’s gorgeous waterfront, which needs some serious updating in terms of both aesthetics and practical matters.

However, the mayor’s message has been consistently drowned out by his council’s inability to look beyond its own importance, the political agendas, axes to grind and ambitions of its members. And Westbroek is no bystander to these shenanigans — he feeds this council’s inward-looking beast as much as its other members.

Case in point: the agenda for Qualicum Beach’s first committee of the whole meeting in the new year, a time and place one might suggest would be healthy opportunity to move onward and upward, is 159 pages and has one subject: what is, and what is not, an official council meeting.

It includes a legal opinion that could not have been cheap, and clearly hours upon hours of staff time, which is not cheap.

Yes, this was a loose end that council wanted closed and directed staff to do just that. But an entire committee of the whole meeting, with a legal opinion and 159 pages of community charter language?

These are tough and important times. Whether or not three members of this bickering council can meet for coffee at the same time in the same place with some residents who want to talk town business clearly needs to be pushed down the priority list. Is there a leader, elected or not, in Qualicum Beach who can get this group focussed?

— Editorial by John Harding