After Teunis Westbroek announced he was running for the post of Qualicum Beach mayor again, the town took the unusual step of issuing a statement revealing why Westbroek was censured in January while serving as a town councillor.
The Sept. 9 statement said the town’s council concluded after a 2021 hearing that Westbroek should be censured for asking staff to destroy records associated with an earlier finding that he had violated the town’s bullying and harassment policy.
Westbroek, who served as mayor from 1999 to 2018, when he ran as councillor, calls resurrecting the matter playing politics, saying he has already apologized for his actions.
The censure notice was published in the Jan. 12 council agenda and said only that it was due to “conduct unbecoming to a member of town council.”
“The original statement contained limited content at Coun. Westbroek’s request when he declared to council his intention to retire from public office at the conclusion of this term (October 2022),” the town’s statement says.
“Since then, Coun. Westbroek has publicly stated his intention to run for another term of office in this year’s general local election.”
Council met in-camera on Sept. 6 to consider a motion from a councillor to release more information. Mayor Brian Wiese and councillors Scott Harrison and Robert Filmer voted in favour. Coun. Anne Skipsey was not present.
Wiese said he could not comment because of confidentially, but he insisted council’s response was not political gamesmanship.
Westbroek said the incident in question involved asking an employee, who is no longer employed by the town, to shred a letter about a “minor” incident that took place at a September 2019 meeting. The letter said there was no formal complaint, accountability was accepted and apologies were issued.
Westbroek said he had considered retiring, but in the months since, “many residents have approached me and asked that I reconsider my decision. But that should not result in political retribution.”
Wiese and Westbroek are the only two candidates vying for mayor.
Filmer, Skipsey and Coun. Scott Harison are running again. Filmer had announced he would not run again but also changed his mind.
Another seven candidates are seeking seats as councillors: Stanley Beech, Peter Kent, Doreen MacKay-Dunn, John Phillips, Jean Young, Dave Willie and Petronella Vander Valk.
Wiese said he wants to continue efforts to see a new medical centre in Qualicum Beach, and more accommodation to attract tourists year-round.
As in other communities, lack of affordable housing to purchase or rent is an issue in the town, Wiese said, noting some workers are travelling from Nanaimo and even Port Alberni.
Qualicum Beach is working with the Kiwanis Club, B.C. Housing to open 56 new affordable housing units on Railway Street, he said.
Also in the works is a $200-million development at Pheasant Glen Golf Resort to include 225 new units, including 40 for hotel use, and a new clubhouse.
Qualicum Beach is geared to an older population and should offer more amenities for young people, said Wiese, who is interested in upgrading the existing skatepark.
He also wants to see the town’s process for handling applications for permits and rezonings reviewed to ensure proposals are dealt with in a timely way under a clear process.
Westbroek, for his part, would like to see two town-owned parcels, totalling 13 acres, near the airport developed to allow for lower-cost strata development on perhaps 60 small lots to help address the housing shortage. He suggested pads to hold mobile or tiny homes.
There’s also a privately owned five-acre lot between the properties and he is hopeful some kind of arrangement could be made to incorporate that land into a larger plan.
He had wanted the town to take a second look at a subdivision proposal that passed last month on 6.4 acres in an area called the Estate Properties. The developers had filed a defamation suit against opponents of the plan. The lawsuit was dismissed.
Both Westbroek and Wiese talk about enhancing the community’s commercial base and keeping taxes down.
Westbroek said decreasing commercial taxes would help local businesses that struggled during the pandemic.
An all candidates meeting is set for Sept. 27 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre, 747 Jones St.