BREAKERS – timely tidbits and follow-ups to previously published stories:
- BREAKING NEWS – Chamber of Commerce Executive Director supports Sarah Duncan in QB by-election
- Important Mail-in ballot information is missing from Town and newspaper publications
- All Candidates Meetings for Town Councillor by-election: May 1 and May 3
- Clearcutting community park when other Town land available? (see Map)
- Life at the Palace on Primrose — Holy COW FOI !
- Beach Creek Cottages flim-flam on Nenzel Road
Breaking News: Chamber of Commerce Executive Director supports Sarah Duncan in QB by-election in violation of Chamber by-laws
According to tips and evidence received from multiple sources, Second Opinion QB has learned that Kim Burden, Executive Director of the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce, has endorsed Sarah Duncan as the preferred candidate in the May 15th Town of Qualicum Beach by-election to fill the vacancy on Qualicum Beach Council.
Since voting has already begun (starting this week with mail-in ballots), we felt it was important to inform the public of this apparent attempt to influence the Town of Qualicum Beach election.
This information surfaced in response to our reporting of the disparity between the tourism efforts in Qualicum Beach compared with tourism efforts in Parksville, Chamber of Commerce erasing QB from the tourism map. Both are managed by Mr. Burden, the Executive Director of the Parksville Chamber of Commerce and former Parksville city councillor who, for the last two years, has also functioned as the Executive Director of Qualicum Beach’s Chamber of Commerce.
According to first-hand sources, Mr. Burden admitted the endorsing of candidate Sarah Duncan, including to the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Article 1.07 of the Chamber of Commerce by-laws expressly prohibits the Chamber from lending “its support to any candidate seeking public office.” Our sources have asked to remain anonymous citing concerns about retribution.
Sarah Duncan was, until April 21, 2021, the Chair of the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce, effectively Mr. Burden’s boss. — Editor April 30, 2021
Mail-in ballots — missing information
IMPORTANT INFORMATION about Mail-in Ballots is missing from the Town’s “special publication”, the four-page brochure Noteworthy: 2021 Local By-election distributed by mail to all residents, and also missing from the full page announcement in the PQB News. As noted below, according to the information shown below from the Town’s website Request a Mail Ballot Package, if you wish to have your ballot mailed to you, you MUST request your mail ballot package before 4:00 pm Friday, April 30, 2021. — Editor
- April 30, 2021 at 4:00 pm – any requests for mail ballot packages received after this deadline MUST be picked up at Town Hall. Requests received before this deadline may be picked up OR mailed to you.
- May 13, 2021 at 4:00 pm – deadline to request a mail ballot package
- May 14, 2021 at 1:00 pm – deadline to pick up a mail ballot package
You may return your completed ballot package by:
- mail using the envelope provided
- in person at Town Hall, 660 Primrose Street, during business hours, 9am to 1pm Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays)
- in person at an advance voting day (May 5 or May 12) at the Civic Centre, 747 Jones Street, 8am to 8pm
- in person on general voting day (May 15) at the Civic Centre, 747 Jones Street, 8am to 8pm
All Candidates Meetings — May 1 and May 3
Saturday May 1st All Candidates Meeting 11 am-1 pm
The Qualicum Beach Residents’ Association will be hosting an All Candidates Meeting on Zoom on May 1st at 11 am. Rev. Philip Spencer will moderate the meeting.
The moderator will open the meeting with introductory remarks and then will ask each candidate to introduce themselves. After the preliminary statements, the moderator will ask each candidate a general question. Once this round is concluded, each candidate will be asked to respond to previously submitted questions from the public.
The public is invited to register for this meeting by emailing the President of the QBRA at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Once registered, the applicant’s name will be recorded, and a link to the meeting provided. Questions for the candidates should be sent in advance to the same email address.
— Doug MacKay-Dunn, President QBRA
Monday, May 3rd Coffee with Your Candidates 7:30 pm
A Coffee with Your Candidates livestream will be hosted by Oceanside News on May 3rd at 7:30 pm.
Have you got a question for any of the Qualicum Beach council by-election candidates? Is there something you would like to see change in town? Submit a question and have your say. — Oceanside News
Clearcutting our community park when other Town land is available?
Why have QB Council and Town administration submitted an application for provincial funding to clearcut an acre section of our Community Park trail system when other publicly-owned bare lands are available and perhaps even more suitable?
In what appears to be a premptive effort to quell public resistance, Town Chief Administrative Officer Daniel Sailland was quoted in the PQB News immediately after release of the Town’s hasty website announcement of their application for some funding for a temporary dry shelter. Sailland claimed that this land would have to be clearcut anyway so that the Town could move the Public Works yard onto this land. Not so.
There are at least three parcels of publicly-owned land that readily come to mind when considering where the temporary (9 month) dry housing could go. These parcels of public land could also easily accommodate the temporary dry housing and the relocated Public Works yards.
Qualicum Beach’s publicly-owned land parcels are outlined in blue on the map below. One example of available town-owned land is the old (closed) Municipal Landfill site just south of Rupert Road at Qualicum Road and View Road, 20 acres (approximately half) of which are being considered as the site for an “innovation hub” in the ever-evolving ad hoc “strategic” plan — see our article on the Town’s strategic plan, Wandering off course – QB’s strategic plan that isn’t.
Note: The Town will hold a hastily-called Committee of the Whole “virtual information meeting” on this proposal at 4:00 pm Thursday, April 29, 2021. — Editor
Life at the Palace on Primrose — Holy COW FOI !
We viewed the Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting on April 21, 2021 and were surprised that, instead of focussing on the Strategic Plan Update which was the Agenda for the meeting [see article in this issue], Council and senior staff started the meeting with a cringeworthy 10 minute rant about “the incredible spike” in Freedom of Information (FOI) requests over the past 18 months.
CAO Daniel Sailland reported that the burden of this onslaught of FOI requests meant “at times, full time work for key staff”, coming “dangerously close to a full time position,” then inferred that it was an on-going $100,000 annual expense.
Corporate Administrator Heather Svensen whinged about the “astronomical” volume, “thousands and thousands of pages of FOIs in the last 18 months.” Councillor Harrison jumped on the bandwagon alleging “fishing expeditions” in which FOI requests were being “weaponized for partisan political purposes”.
This had all the markings of staged theatrics, punctuated by Mayor Wiese tossing in a comment about “somewhat dubious requests.” However, the conversation soon took on a different tone when Councillor Westbroek posed an obviously unscripted question: “Has the Town been seen to ever have done something wrong? Have we been found guilty of doing something wrong or inappropriately?” Westbroek had to ask the question twice; finally, Svensen answered: “We [the Town] have not been.”
At least one example previously reported on by Second Opinion QB challenges the truthfulness of Svensen’s response. A year ago, after repeated illegal conduct, Environment Canada eventually was compelled to issue a Compliance Order to force the Town, Mayor Wiese and Town engineer Bob Weir to stop violating federal law, or else face fines and/or imprisonment, as we reported in our story Mayor Wiese and town engineer ordered to stop violating federal law.
Much of the information that enabled our ability to inform the public of this wrongdoing came from one or more FOI requests submitted by Qualicum Beach residents. It seems that Council and Town administrative staff continue in steadfast denial of the facts, misleading the public, as we highlighted in a follow-up report last fall, Rattled mayor and town engineer crank up spin machine, and as evidenced by Ms. Svensen’s statement at the April 21st meeting.
The stated purpose of the FOI half of the provincial government’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) is to “make public bodies more accountable to the public .. by giving the public a right of access to records,” with limited exceptions as spelled out in the legislation.
FOI requests are not the problem. Having to rely on FOI requests to determine what is going on inside the Palace on Primrose is at most only a symptom of the underlying problem of diminished public trust in our Town’s governance. When public bodies are perceived to be playing loose with the truth, or are not fully transparent in their actions and decisions, a concerned public gets forced into onerous and costly searches as a last resort. — GS
Beach Creek Cottages flim-flam on Nenzel Road
Six months ago, a controversial project proposed by Dean and Marianne Dreger was the subject of a Public Hearing (October 14, 2020) and received third reading. Oops, they’ve changed their minds (again) about what they want to do. That’s why second and third reading are scheduled to be rescinded at Council’s April 28, 2021 meeting. If the replacement proposal earns second reading, it will then go to a new Public Hearing.
What’s changed? Only the most significant feature of the Dreger proposal. Readers may recall the promise of a Long Term, Affordable [not defined] Rental Housing Cluster of six small (570 square foot) houses, in the rural area south of Rupert Road and, yes, outside the Town’s Urban Containment Boundary as spelled out in the Town’s Official Community Plan (OCP).
Now the Dregers want to build and sell the six houses, but retain and rent the land under the house to each owner. Seems the altruistic gesture of partially solving the lack of rental housing inventory in Qualicum Beach is no longer their thing. Seems they were counting on some free money from the feds (i.e. Canadian taxpayers) that dried up. The Dregers are entitled to look after their own financial interests first, but does their new proposal (spot development of bungalows in a rural area) deserve Town support?
Our Town planners think so — with the concurrence of CAO Daniel Sailland. For some reason in their staff report to Council appended to the April 28, 2021 Council Meeting Agenda, Director of Planning Luke Sales repeatedly still refers to the proposed development as “six rural rental cottages”. Whoa, Rebecca, Luke, Daniel, think about what you are saying! That is NOT at all what is now being proposed.
The Dregers are not being coy — they openly suggest that their target market segment is now the “dozens of single senior women in our community who have told [them] they would love to sell their ‘too large’ home and purchase a smaller home if that opportunity were to exist in Qualicum Beach.” [emphasis ours] FYI, that sounds quite similar to the sales pitch the Town swallowed a few years back justifying zoning for the non-existent Cottages at Eaglecrest.
Luke Sales also claims that an OCP amendment is not required or appropriate. He wants to simply make an OCP exception / exemption for this experiment “to evaluate the compatibility of these “rural rental cottages” without opening up the area to urban development”. Which is worse — not recognizing (or perhaps intentionally misleading the public) that these are NOT going to be purpose-built rentals? Or not recognizing that, by making an exemption for this latest proposal, the Town would become obliged to say OK to the next “experimental” project that wants to bypass the OCP’s guard rails? And the next, and the next …
It is mind-boggling that this current proposal for a tonier version of a modular/mobile home park where you buy your own home and rent the ‘pad’ beneath has even been brought forward for Council consideration. — GS