BREAKERS: Todsens file lawsuit against QB environmental group – Changes to mail ballot delivery options – No reply from Chamber – Deliver mail-in votes by hand – Pheasant Glen – Election distractions?

Timely tidbits + follow-ups to previously published stories

  • BREAKING NEWS: Todsens file defamation lawsuit against Qualicum Nature Preservation Society
  • ALERT: Mail ballot drop now permitted at Advance Poll May 12th + Town Hall until 4 pm Friday, May 14
  • Mail-in ballots should all now be hand-delivered — too late to guarantee mail delivery by deadline
  • All Candidates Meeting videos available; four candidates decline to attend Oceanside News ACM
  • No reply from Chamber Board chair re Executive Director’s support of by-election candidate
  • Election distractions, deceptions?
  • Pheasant Glen — still a pig-in-a-poke after third reading
  • One night that changed everything — remembering Eva Cassidy and her music

Todsens file defamation lawsuit against Qualicum Nature Preservation Society + founder

On Friday, May 14, 2021, lawyers for Rick and Linda Todsen filed a Notice of Claim for defamation against Ezra Morse and the Qualicum Nature Preservation Society (QNPS). The Todsens have an application before Qualicum Beach Council to subdivide and develop part of Qualicum Beach’s wooded Estate Properties near Milner Gardens. Second Opinion QB has reported on the Todsen application in previous stories, including Iconic estate properties to be replaced by subdivisions.

When contacted, Ezra Morse, one of the founders of the QNPS said he had no comment at this time.

These types of lawsuits are sometimes referred to as SLAPP suits. According to the Alberta Environmental Law Centre, SLAPP stands for “strategic lawsuits against public participation” and in essence, a SLAPP suit is a “lawsuit, or the threat of a lawsuit, directed against individuals or organizations, in order to silence and deter their public criticisms and advocacy for change. A SLAPP case often lacks merit and generally does not succeed in court; however, legal success in the traditional sense is usually not the goal. Instead, the goal of a SLAPP suit is to silence critics either through a protracted legal process, costs, or other challenges. Due to these concerns, the threat of these lawsuits can lead to a chill on public participation.”

Mail ballot drop now permitted at Advance Poll May 12th + Town Hall until 4 pm Friday, May 14

MAY 11, 2021 – ALERT re Delivery of Your Completed Mail Ballot package:

Information issued by the Town of Qualicum Beach about voting by mail ballot contains new and contradictory instructions. After reviewing the following sources of information released by the Town regarding the 2021 Council by-election, it appears that electors who opted for a mail ballot have these remaining alternatives to deliver their completed mail ballot packages:

  1. Deliver your completed mail ballot package to the regular Town Hall mail slot located to the right of the right-most doors leading to Town Hall offices between the hours of 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM Monday to Friday; OR
  2. Deliver your completed mail ballot package on WEDNESDAY, MAY 12, Advance Poll between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM at the Civic Centre Voting Place on Jones Street; OR
  3. Deliver your completed mail ballot package on SATURDAY, MAY 15, General Voting Day between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM at the Civic Centre Voting Place on Jones Street.

Our conclusions were drawn after reviewing the following sources of information issued to the voting public by the Chief Election Officer for the 2021 Council by-election:

The mail slot is located on the right of the right-most doors leading to the Town of Qualicum Beach offices.
  • The four-page colour brochure mailed to all QB residents states that “your mail ballot must be received at Town Hall by the close of business at 1pm on Friday, May 14, 2021.” [emphasis ours] The only other alternative provided in this Special Publication issued by Town Hall was that your mail ballot package could be “delivered by hand to the Chief Election Officer [Heather Svensen] at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre” on voting day, Saturday May 15th “no later than 8pm.”
  • The “Mail Ballot Voting Instructions” included in the actual mail voting package received by voters who requested mail ballots provides two options for returning a completed ballot: hand-deliver your completed ballot package on Voting Day at the Civic Centre between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm; OR deliver your completed ballot package to “Town Hall by close of business at 4:00 pm on Friday, May 14, 2021. [emphasis ours]
  • A full-page ad in PQB News gives only one option for returning completed mail ballot packages: “It is the responsibility of the elector to ensure that their completed ballot [package] is delivered to the Chief Election Officer no later than 8:00 pm on General Voting Day, Saturday, May 15, 2021, to be counted.”
  • The Town’s website information regarding return of completed mail voting packages has changed: According to the Town’s website as of today, May 11, 2021, an additional option for delivering completed mail ballot packages has recently been added: in person at an advance voting day (May 5 or May 12) at the Civic Centre, 747 Jones Street, 8am to 8pm.”

Mail-in ballots should now be hand-delivered — likely too late to guarantee mail delivery by deadline

The deadline for the Chief Electoral Officer to receive your mail-in ballot is 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, 2021.

That doesn’t mean the ballot package has to be in the mailbox by 8 p.m. on May 15 — it means your mail-in ballot has to have ARRIVED at Town Hall or at the QB Civic Centre Voting Station before this deadline, or your ballot will not be counted. So be sure to complete your ballot and return it as soon as possible. Our local mail is no longer sorted in QB, and Canada Post states that a local envelope should take two (2) days for delivery — but that’s best case, and there will be an increased volume of mail.

Limited Town Hall Hours: Our Town Hall has chosen to operate at reduced hours during the pandemic (9-1, M-F), so the Town Hall will be closed after 1 p.m. on Friday, May 14, the day before the election. According to the Town, after that, your only option to have your ballot counted is to deliver the completed mail-in ballot package “by hand to the Chief Election Officer at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre at 747 Jones Street, Qualicum Beach, no later than 8 p.m. on General Voting Day, Saturday, May 15, 2021.”

All Candidates Meetings available on YouTube; four candidates decline to attend Oceanside News ACM

Two All Candidates Meetings (ACM) were held for the public to have an opportunity to hear and ask questions of the five candidates running in the by-election for the vacant seat on Qualicum Beach Council. We thank the Eaglecrest Residents Association (ERA) and the Qualicum Beach Residents Association (QBRA) for their efforts to organize and host these virtual sessions, and to make them available to the public for later viewing on YouTube.

All Candidate Meeting Videos:

Watch ERA All Candidates Meeting

Watch QBRA All Candidates Meeting

A third ACM was held for residents of the Berwick retirement residence but was not made available to the public. Another All Candidates Meeting (Coffee with your Candidates) was to have been hosted by Oceanside News. However, four of the five candidates declined to attend, according to a letter signed by the four candidates.

No reply from Chamber Board chair re Executive Director’s support of by-election candidate

Second Opinion QB has not received a reply to our request for comment from the chair of the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Matt Breedlove. To date, neither Mr. Kim Burden, the current executive director of the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce, nor the Chamber’s new Board of Directors has refuted the facts of the article we published about Mr. Burden having supported a specific candidate in the current municipal by-election, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director supports Sarah Duncan in QB by-election in violation of Chamber by-laws.

Election distractions, deceptions?

Lots of razzle-dazzle going on in the last couple weeks leading up to the May 15th by-election. The filing of a defamation lawsuit against Councillor Teunis Westbroek by the former owners of Quality Foods, principals of Kelland Foods Holding Ltd. and local major land owner Kelland Ventures, was prominently covered in the PQB News and Oceanside News this past week. Residents might wonder about the timing of this lawsuit. Is the timing meant to distract residents from the by-election? Is it meant to intimidate current or future Town of Qualicum Beach councillors or business owners? Might this lawsuit simply vanish after the by-election in a behind-the-scenes settlement? In our opinion, launching this salvo in the middle of an election campaign was inappropriate.

On another front, the new society that by-election candidate Sarah Duncan announced in an All Candidates Meeting this past week, and for which a GoFundMe page had been set up, has apparently folded after numerous people noted that it wasn’t actually registered as a society. The project was called St. Andrews Family Park, a proposal for a kids playground at the St. Andrews site, an idea that no one seems to have heard of before. Ms. Duncan’s GoFundMe page disappeared within 24 hours, but not before donations were apparently made by Mayor Brian Wiese and by Town Chief Administrative Officer Daniel Sailland.

Finally, we note that Qualicum Beach Mayor Brian Wiese has an election sign on his home property in support of Council by-election candidate Sarah Duncan.

Pheasant Glen — still a pig-in-a-poke after third reading

This is an update to our previous article that reported many of the questions still unanswered about the Pheasant Glen resort proposal, even after its Public Hearing held on March 31, 2021, Pheasant Glen hearing unearths more uncertainties.

At their April 28, 2021 Regular Meeting QB Town Council gave third reading to the OCP and rezoning amendments that would enable the Duttons (aka Golf Clan Holdings) to subdivide the property and sell lots for construction of permanent residences. Lots of lots – up to 185 of them.

Still no sign of the required Land Lift Analysis to determine the value of the Community Amenity Contribution (CAC) payable by the Duttons. The takeaway from the lengthy Council / staff discussion about applying the CAC policy is that Town staff have never figured out how to specifically implement the Town’s CAC policy – a task that should have been completed long, long ago. They are still bumbling over basic stuff like – when should it be made available? Before Public Hearing? Between Public Hearing and third reading? After third reading but before adoption? Should Council and the public even know what the number is? Since the CAC can be in the form of amenities in lieu of cash, who decides what the value of a non-cash amenity is?

Image from Pheasant Glen Land Use Concept document submitted for “Multi-Use Lifestyle Resort Community.”

Equally scary is the disinformation peddled by Councillor Harrison in particular that “every single unit goes into a rental pool.” We did explain what that really means in our original article, Mayor’s haste to grease skids for Pheasant Glen. As it currently stands, it still appears that any owner of any house in that community could choose to live there and never, ever rent it short-term or long-term to anyone. Period.

At least Councillor Filmer is still alive to the Town being sold a pig-in-a-poke, stating “I still do not trust what’s going on here.” Or maybe the entire Council knows what’s going on, but Councillor Filmer is the only one to call B.S. Readers may remember that the first thing that was supposed to get built was a 40-room hotel, since the primary Town objective was to increase the Town’s tourist accommodation inventory. But in case anybody is still operating under that delusion, Bill Dutton in an open letter on April 28, 2021 made his intention very clear, albeit craftily worded: “If the application is approved, we will invest millions more to install the sewer, water, and power services to the lots and Clubhouse.” Well duh – no one will be lining up to buy unserviced lots. Dutton then goes on to say that after selling some, most, or all (we’re not told) of the lots: “I will reinvest net proceeds from the developed lots to fund a new generation of amenities – a new clubhouse, restaurant, brewery/pub, 40 room hotel/lodge, 6,000 square feet of amenity facilities, trails and quarry gardens.” Or not. There is no binding agreement that he do so.

Much of the hour-long Pheasant Glen discussion at the April 28, 2021 Council Meeting (starts at the 51:00-minute mark on the video) has the Council and staff stumbling around how to create some negotiated, enforceable warranty that the proponents will do what they propose. CAO Sailland suggested a cascading agreement which stipulates that you cannot do B until you complete A; then you cannot do C until you’ve done B; etc.

Maybe the Town ought to get into the big leagues — if you want a 40-room hotel first, then make it a condition of approval that the proponent purchases themselves a $10 million Performance Bond for Phase 1 – payable to the Town if the 40-unit hotel has not been fully built and operational for one year by December 31, 2024. Then even if Mayor Wiese and his cronies happily settle for this residential enclave outside town without any tourist accommodation, at least the Town will have some cash. — GS

One night that changed everything — remembering Eva Cassidy and her music

Singer-songwriter Eva Cassidy PHOTO courtesy of FYI Music News

Twenty-five years ago, a little known singer, Eva Cassidy, and her producer scraped together enough money to record a live audience performance and self-produce an album called Live at Blues Alley. That January 3, 1996 gig became the foundation of her unparalleled posthumous worldwide success. Eva died from cancer 10 months later at the age of 33.

The story of that very special night at Blues Alley interlaced with spectacular performance vignettes is wonderfully told in this documentary released earlier this year. Enjoy.