The fate of St Andrews Lodge in Qualicum Beach will finally be decided at a special council meeting tomorrow morning (Nov. 6) after pressure from the public and a change of heart from Coun. Teunis Westbroek.
The meeting was called by Westbroek and Coun. Adam Walker after Mayor Brian Wiese published an open letter to council, making it clear he did not intend to call a meeting to change the fate of the lodge.
Protesters have been on site since Monday, when work on asbestos removal began inside the building. Westbroek expressed his change of heart to the group on Thursday, saying he intends on bringing forth a motion to council to look at alternate options. Westbroek said he requested a council meeting be called yesterday morning.
“According to provincial legislation, we have to wait then 24 hours in which time the mayor could call a meeting. If he doesn’t, then two members of council can call a meeting and that is exactly what we did,” he said. “I think our senior staff were throwing some legal roadblocks in the way for us to do this, but we got it posted.”
In his letter, published on Wednesday, Wiese reminded councillors the decision to demolish the building was made after 16 months of public outreach and all other avenues were exhausted before a decision was made.
“Together we are a single council, not five individual members. We depend on each other’s support and must adhere to the structures of our democratic institution toward faithfully advancing the business of our community,” the letter said.
It is expected a motion to stop demolition of the lodge will be passed tomorrow morning, with support from three councillors — two who originally supported keeping the lodge and Westbroek.
Council will discuss a second motion, which would direct town staff to support and work with the Qualicum Beach Community Education and Wellness Society (QCEWS) to establish a St Andrews Lodge Historical and Cultural Society. The town would then lease the property to the group once the building is restored — keeping operating costs off the town budget.
Westbroek said the motion may be amended through discussion and he only made it so council has a starting point.
The meeting will be public and held at 11 a.m. It can be streamed from the town’s website.