The Town of Qualicum Beach has invited voters to join a discussion about a proposal for increasing the number of elected council members from four to six (plus a mayor) by way of a bylaw change vote by the present council.
This is neither the proper way to seek full public input, nor is it in the mandate of the present council to make such a change in its last few months before an election. The only proper way to overturn the result of two previous referendums is by holding another referendum.
Actions such as this bylaw proposal erode public confidence in local government.
Council was elected in 2018. Its term is more than three-quarters completed. Provincial legislation prevents a council from adding council seats later than April of an election year, for good reasons.
If this is an important matter of principle, as bylaw proponents maintain, then it is also important that it be seen to be done properly, and not be tainted.
This is a legitimate governance issue that deserves vigorous and informed debate. Council should do the right thing, and put it to a vote in a 2022 October referendum. We are paying for an election and counting votes anyway.
Anything less will be a direct insult to the large majority of Qualicum Beach’s voters who already rejected this council size increase twice. In the 2014 referendum, more than 70 per cent of voters said ‘no’. In the 2008 referendum, more than 76 per cent of voters said ‘no’. If it was important enough to require a referendum in 2008 and again in 2014, it is important enough to require a referendum in 2022.
Please do the right thing, hold a referendum in October. The incoming 2022 council should respect that vote. That is how democracy is meant to work.