BREAKERS: Local familes shattered by relatives’ deaths in earthquake – $95,000 contract awarded to Legion by Town for community events, no public consultation

February 7, 2023 | Updated Feb 9, 2023

  • Local families shattered by relatives’ deaths in Turkey-Syria earthquake
  • Town contracts QB Legion for “special” community events
  • Free online technology training for seniors
  • Scene around Town – signs of spring!

Local families shattered by relatives’ deaths in Turkey-Syria earthquake

The massive earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northwestern Syria on February 6 has hit home here in our community.

Killed in Monday’s earthquake were eight close relatives of two families that fled civil war in Syria and relocated here with the help of local residents assisted by St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Qualicum Beach.

“My father’s cousin and all of his family of seven are killed. My sisters’ homes are gone,” said Samar al Faraj who, as reported by Second Opinion QB, with her husband Bader and their three children, moved to Parksville in 2017 after spending several years in Lebanon after escaping the war in Syria.

The home of Bader’s sister and their family of four young children was destroyed by the earthquake. Bader says they have not been able to reach them lately but have confirmed they were not injured. Communication systems have been disrupted in the wake of the disaster.

Samar’s brother Hesham Alhibaiou and his wife Nour Alebaid who resettled in Canada with their young children in 2020 report that members of Nour’s family have “lost everything” in the earthquake.

Three of Samar’s and Hesham’s sisters have lost their homes. They said there are still people unaccounted for, and there are some injuries like broken arms and ankles and cuts and bruises for the ones that are ‘ok’.

Many of their family members remain in extreme danger in Syria or are refugees in Turkey, according to a media release from Terry Roberts, a member the families’ original sponsor group. He said, “those who have managed to flee to Turkey have been left in limbo because they do not have legal status to work there.”

One of Nour Alebaid’s brothers has been helping to dig earthquake victims out by hand. “They have no machines, very hard job. They work in the night too,” she said.

Over 20,000 confirmed dead and thousands more injured have been reported, with the numbers expected to climb in the coming days. Two earthquakes of a magnitude over 7.5 struck the region within a short period of time, and more than 100 aftershocks of a magnitude greater than 4.0 have been felt. The people are left with no shelter, little food or water, no electricity, no medical supplies, only the clothes on their backs, and the weather is cold, with snow in the forecast.

Their families say they are shattered by the tragedy and ask for our help to raise money for those who have survived the disaster.

DONATIONS CAN BE MADE to the UNHCR, the United Nations organization that is in the region to help refugees, or the White Helmets who, in addition to helping rescue people who are trapped in collapsed buildings in Syria, have created a network of support for injured civilians caught up in the war. The federal government has also agreed to match funds donated by Canadians to the Red Cross/Red Crescent. — LS

Town contracts Qualicum Beach Legion to produce “special” community events

A surprise item recently surfaced in Council documents, the award of a $95,000 five-year contract to the Qualicum Beach Legion for “special events for community benefit.”

We can find no record of any Council discussion in public about any request by the Legion for this funding, nor any description of what “special events” have been cooked up in private.

Included with the Agenda for Council’s February 8, 2023 regular meeting was an announcement that, in the in camera portion of their January 18, 2023 meeting, Council committed to “contributing $19,000 per year over the next five years [to Qualicum Beach Legion Branch 76] for services to the Town of Qualicum Beach in coordinating, marketing, and implementing special events for the community benefit,” and instructed staff “to enter into a Fee for Service Agreement between the Town of Qualicum Beach and the Qualicum Beach Legion Branch 76, substantially in the form as attached to the January 18, 2023 staff report.”

This staff report was not included with the published regular meeting agenda.

We can find no record of any Council discussion in public about any request by the Legion for this funding, nor any description of what “special events” have been cooked up in private.

Nor have we seen even a draft 5-year financial plan for 2023 – 2027, let alone an approved budget. We are unaware of any hidden Council slush fund that would provide this funding.

The newly-elected Town Council and Administration have proclaimed their intention to be more transparent and inclusive of the community. This example appears to demonstrate the opposite.

We have asked, in writing, that the Town’s Finance Director Raj Hayre fully explain the “contractual terms, conditions, deliverables, and reporting accountability of the proposed services, plus an explanation of when the $95,000 budgetary commitment was approved, and by whom.”

We have not yet received a reply. – GS

Free online technology training for seniors

Oceanside Building-Learning-Together (OBLT) offers free technology training for seniors.

On Friday mornings during February, OBLT’s Technology Learning Centre is hosting on-line Zoom sessions on the following days:

Friday, February 10 – Creating and managing Zoom sessions
Zoom is a great tool for communicating with family and friends from your computer, smart phone, or tablet. If you want to learn about how to set up and manage your own zoom sessions and invite other people to join you then this workshop is for you! If you are not an experienced Zoom user, get your feet wet in this session.

Friday, February 17 – Password management in 2023
Do you get stressed out when a web site asks you to create a safe and secure password? Maybe you have just given up and reuse the same password for many or all sites? Join Robbin as he introduces attendees to safe and effective password management techniques and tools that will simplify and vastly improve your security when browsing the web.

Friday, February 24 – Introduction to Word Processing
Introduction to Word Processing. Create and format documents. Type text and then cut, copy, paste, change the font color and size, insert a picture or page number. Have questions beyond these basics bring them and we will answer them.

View and register for workshops online at or phone 250-947-8258 and leave your contact information. — GS

Scene around Town – signs of spring

The breezes are starting to waft with the fragrance of sweet box. A good place to catch the scent of these hardy, attractive perennial shrubs is along the length of the large window looking into Ravensong Pool.

Sweet box, (Sarcococca confusa) is a terrific, winter-flowering, evergreen shrub rich in many qualities. Announcing their presence with their incredible, sweet vanilla fragrance, tiny ivory-white flowers appear in late winter to early spring, somewhat hidden among the dense foliage of glossy, slightly rippled, dark green leaves.

Seedy Saturday was held on February 4th at the Qualicum Beach Civic Cente next door to Ravensong Pool. Inside and out, the event was packed with eager, smiling gardeners. — LS