BREAKERS: Rural innovation hub?? – Mill Rd hearing extended – Town improves tendering – Council benches Wiese & Harrison – Market music delights

  • Ready for QB’s Rural Innovation Hub??
  • Mill Rd hearing recessed to October 6
  • Walking the talk – Community Benefit Plan example
  • Farmers Market Fado music delights
  • Council benches Wiese & Harrison
  • Scene around Town

Ready for QB’s Rural Innovation Hub??

Learn more about a mysterious ‘forestry innovator’ who wants a big chunk of Town land. Tune in to the September 22, 2021 Committee of the Whole meeting. Catch what you can before Council scurries behind closed doors.

To help put this latest ad hoc proposed project in perspective, we discuss it at the end of a feature article on economic development in today’s issue, Costly, confused mashup of economic “strategies” ignores QB’s needs.

Mill Rd hearing recessed to October 6, 2021 due to Town error

If you missed the opportunity to participate in the Public Hearing on September 8, 2021 regarding construction (and the destruction of mature native treescape) proposed at 245 Mill Road, despair not. You have a second chance.

On July 21, 2021, after second reading, Council had directed that a Public Hearing be scheduled seven weeks later on September 8, 2021. Apparently someone in Administration, under the direction of Deputy CAO Heather Svensen, didn’t complete the required newspaper notifications for the Public Hearing in time. Was everyone at Town Hall on holiday in August?

However, some residents had already signed up to express their concerns or support for the proposal on September 8. So a partial Public Hearing was conducted on September 8 and then “recessed,” to be continued on October 6, 2021. The draft Minutes of the Council meeting do not include the reason for the recess.

Walking the talk – Community Benefit Plan example

The Town of Qualicum Beach adopted its Social Procurement Policy in 2016, and incorporated the Policy into tendering specifications. This recent example shows how the Policy is applied, and describes the commendable qualifications of Courtenay-based Ridgeline Mechanical Ltd. who was recently selected for a construction contract to connect the Sandpiper subdivision to the Town’s water supply.

As reported to Council by Town Engineer Bob Weir on September 8, 2021, “The tender documents included an optional social procurement component. Each Tenderer was given the opportunity to submit a Community Benefit Plan addressing their social value initiatives in the construction industry and the local community. Tenderers were advised that the social value scoring might affect the ranking of the tenders if the second lowest tender was within 5% of the low bid.

Only Ridgeline Mechanical [who were also the low bidder] chose to acknowledge and submit a Community Benefit Community Plan with their tender package, therefore, the social value scoring did not affect the ranking of the tenders. Their Community Benefit Plan identified:

· starting wages markedly above the Town of Qualicum Beach’s defined living wage

· detailed an apprenticeship program overseen by ticketed journeypersons that also includes co-op experience positions for high school, college and university students

· identified their support of local businesses in procurement

· donations to a non-profit society that provides accommodation and funding for families who need to travel outside the community for medical treatment.”

Farmers Market Fado music delights

QB Farmers Market attendees enjoyed this young duo’s performance recently, especially the Portuguese Fado music.

Brittany Bowman and Oscar Robles of Café Olé have also played with the Vancouver Island Latin Jazz band Zandhunga, known for its lively Latin dance party music.

Council benches Wiese and Harrison

Another jaw-dropping cock-up by CAO Sailland and Town Administration has infuriated Town residents, if only measured in terms of the volume of letters and vitriol at the mass removal of outdoor bench seats. This subject deserves a much longer analysis of how decisions get made at the Palace on Primrose, and why there are no consequences for incompetent actions by senior managers.

The issue was discussed at length at the Town Council meeting on September 8, 2021, starting at the 1 hr 18 min mark on the recorded meeting video. As you will hear, multiple Councillors were genuinely outraged. First, because the benches were ripped out for no apparent good reason, and second, because Council was blind-sided. Apparently Sailland and his team just went ahead without even advising Council, let alone providing a rationale in advance to Council and the public, or obtaining their approval before proceeding.

Councillors were admirably restrained in their well-justified fury.

And then Councillor Harrison, swimming madly against the current, jumped to the defense of Town staff in this inexplicable, career-limiting rant: “It is highly inappropriate for Councillor Westbroek to start dragging staffing into this. There has been an undertone in Councillor Westbroek recently questioning senior management’s judgment and it’s really unfortunate to see that in a public meeting.”

Really? If Council doesn’t pin Town Administration’s ears back, and demonstrate to the electors that they will hold Administration to account for major blunders, who will? Frankly, we at Second Opinion QB, as the sole media outlet seemingly committed to providing candid analysis of the good, the bad and the ugly actions from Town Hall, would prefer to not carry this burden alone.

When our elected officials, including Councillor Harrison, don’t demand administrative accountability, then Council is seen as endorsing, if not commending, Administration misconduct. That serves no one. Both Council and Administration should publicly apologize for this unnecessary bench fiasco. Maybe when Council gets around to adopting a Code of Conduct they can make Rule # 1: “If you mess up, ‘fess up.”

Bottom-line: Council resolved that “Staff bring the Town Policy on Bench sponsorship and replacement to Council for review; and further that staff provide a report on Town Benches based on the work done with our Asset Management Plan; and further that prior to staff providing a report on Town Benches, that staff be instructed to replace the benches that were recently removed, as appropriate, as soon as possible with the new model bench.”

That third item — directing staff to immediately at least partially remedy their mistake — resulted from an amendment supported by Councillors Filmer, Skipsey and Westbroek, but opposed by Mayor Wiese and Councillor Harrison. When we are again able to sit and rest a spell at one of our favourite benches, it will be no thanks to Wiese and Harrison.

Scene in Town

This vintage VW turned many heads as it rolled into downtown Qualicum Beach.