In mid-April 2020, three weeks after the province declared a State of Emergency, when businesses, schools, facilities, services and amenities were closed and people were sheltering in place, Mayor Brian Wiese swung into action. The mayor appears to have personally ordered and picked up (and perhaps even installed himself?) large signs warning the public to obey the COVID-19 directive to stay two meters away from other people.
These identical signs were later seen installed on the premises of a private business despite one sign bearing the Town of Qualicum Beach logo. Was Mayor Wiese protecting the citizens of Qualicum Beach, or was he protecting the interests of friends and financial backers?
The mini-billboards (approximately 4’ x 6’) feature a bright orange banner with the word “WARNING” in large letters, and this statement below, “COVID-19 protocol strictly enforced. Stay two meters apart or you will be asked to immediately leave. ”
One of these signs was briefly installed on the fence surrounding the public tennis courts on Veteran’s Way, at a time when the tennis courts were closed. The other sign is installed at the entrance to Pheasant Glen Golf Resort. The signs are identical except that one sign bears the logo of the Town of Qualicum Beach, while the other sign sports the Pheasant Glen logo.
The saga of the signs gets muddier. After a short while, the above sign disappeared from the QB tennis courts. A second sign was later seen inside the premises of the Pheasant Glen Golf Resort (photo below), installed beside the path leading golfers to the course.
It should be noted that Pheasant Glen Golf Resort is owned by the Dutton family, major contributors to Brian Wiese’s election campaign for mayor. For 15 years, the Duttons have had grand building plans that seem to depend on contentious Town Council exemptions or changes to zoning bylaws, the most recent being the January 15, 2020 Council meeting in which they received approval to sub-divide the large chunk of their property that was removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve back in 2005.
Why were these WARNING signs ordered? Who paid for these signs? Why was our mayor personally involved? Why were no other similar COVID-19 WARNING signs erected elsewhere in the Town?
According to a video produced by Mayor Wiese for his personal Facebook site, the mayor ordered and took delivery of these WARNING signs. The mayor can be seen hauling the signs out of the back of a pick-up truck. He is quoted in the video saying that these signs are needed because “We’re going to be busy in town for sure. Need to get more signs out here [tennis courts], and possibly the beach.”
If Mayor Wiese was so concerned about the safety of the residents of Qualicum Beach, why haven’t signs like these been erected elsewhere in the town warning the public? No other similar WARNING signs have been seen anywhere else in Qualicum Beach – not at the waterfront, not at the sports fields near the Civic Centre, and not at the public square outside Town hall, another popular gathering place. Only recently, in late May, did the Town of Qualicum Beach install an official Town sign beside the gate to the tennis courts with standard COVID-19 safety instructions for the public, one that bears little resemblance to the oddly-worded signs that Mayor Wiese is seen on his Facebook video hauling out of a truck. [Note: These orange WARNING signs that our mayor apparently ordered incorrectly identify Dr. Bonnie Henry. She is not “BC Chief Medical Officer.” She is BC’s “Public Health Officer.”]
Why is Mayor Wiese ordering signs for a private golf club business when the Memorial Golf Course, owned by the Town of Qualicum Beach, was closed because of COVID-19? Three weeks after our municipal golf course reopened, no similar COVID-19 WARNING signs have appeared there either.
Did the taxpayers of Qualicum Beach pay for the mini-billboards that are now installed at Pheasant Glen? We sent an email to the Town asking for further information but, to date, have not received a reply.