Lack of transparency by local government and advocacy groups

Increasingly, people are complaining about how Qualicum Beach Council and Town managers make decisions and how they conduct themselves on the job. There appear to be good reasons for citizens to be concerned:  the haste with which some decisions are being made, inadequate lead time for citizen input, and apparent disregard for community values, standards and regulations, to name a few.

Underscoring many of these concerns is the difficulty citizens often have getting information from QB Council and Town staff. There is a noticeable lack of transparency, especially when compared to other municipal governments on Vancouver Island. But, it goes both ways. Some opponents of various Council decisions are also less than forthcoming — about their identity and about their objectives.

Citizens frustrated by lack of Council transparency

Citizens have formed advocacy groups in opposition to some of Council’s decisions and to the lack of transparency and due process, a legitimate form of protest and awareness building in the community.

For example, while biking with his son in early 2020, QB resident Ezra Morse was alarmed to discover bulldozers destroying wooded areas adjacent to wetlands, land that had been protected for decades by previous councils. His efforts to obtain information about Council’s decision to develop this land were in vain. Frustrated, Morse formed a society for the protection of these QB wetlands, the Qualicum Nature Preservation Society (QNPS). Despite having obtained a legal opinion, as reported in Second Opinion QB, stating that Council broke provincial laws regarding endangering wetlands — and still being denied information by the Town about this Council decision — QNPS was forced to demand information under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act, i.e. to make an FOI request. Obtaining information from the Town and elected officials shouldn’t be this hard.

Some advocacy groups are not forthcoming

An email containing a poster announcing an upcoming public demonstration hit our email inbox last week. It contained a colourful poster urging people to march through Qualicum Beach to a rally to be held at Town Hall. Despite its attractive packaging, promising music and prizes in support of everything from clean air to integrity and honesty, something was missing. Who was organizing this event?

Ironically, the poster (shown below) states that “secrecy” is one of the things that rally participants will apparently be demonstrating against. The irony seems to be lost on the organizers of this event.

Operating in the shadows benefits no one, whether it’s the Town of Qualicum Beach, its Mayor and Council, or various citizens and advocacy groups, regardless of how well-intentioned they may be.