The issue that set the tone for the current term was back before Qualicum Beach council on Wednesday last week.
Coun. Mary Brouilette claimed Coun. Scott Tanner and Mayor Teunis Westbroek had held their own meeting with an architect to discuss the proposed new fire hall.
"All of council should have been there with staff," she said. "Back-door meetings and not being out in the open, I'm very concerned about that."
Just after the November 2011 election, Mayor Teunis West-broek found Councillors Brouilette, Bill Luchtmeijer and Dave Willie, soon to be dubbed the Gang of Three, meeting with senior staff in a room across from his office in the town hall. The Mayor said the meeting, a quorum of council, was "highly irregular" and "disrespectful."
Coun. Brouilette said they were just "gathering background information."
This time, Westbroek and Tanner acknowledged that they and senior staff, including Chief Administrative Officer Mark Brown, had met with Kelowna-based architect Ted Thomas, who has a home in Qualicum Beach and is experienced in designing fire halls.
Tanner said Thomas had approached him concerned about the estimated $5-million cost of the fire hall.
Tanner said he told Thomas he should speak with town staff and arranged a meeting with Brown, Planning Director Luke Sales and Engineering Director Bob Weir.
"My role was simply one of introduction," Tanner said. "I wasn't part of the discussion." Thomas was "volunteering his expertise to the town," he said to Brouilette. "It was really unfortunate you couldn't attend."
Luchtmeijer said, "all of council needs to be in the loop as to what's going on."
"As far as I'm concerned," West-broek said, "anybody who wants to meet with us can do so."
Willie said he agreed that staff should be able to meet with anybody but "I don't think it's right that individual council members should attend."
On Monday, Willie told council he's concerned that the level of "decorum and civility of the public process is deteriorating."
When a public meeting is promising to be contentious, such as a recent meeting with Chartwell residents on the airport lands, he said he's "not comfortable sending staff into that kind of environment."
Westbroek said it would help if council set a good example.
/ Coun. Mary Brouilette says all of council should have been at a meeting to discuss the fire-hall project with architect Ted Thomas.;
© Copyright 2013