After a discussion about costs to the town incurred by St. Andrews Lodge, Coun. Teunis Westbroek offered his own money to help progress the building restoration.
“What these people are doing is community building and if it comes down to paying a hydro bill, I will publicly state right now, if that’s an issue, I will pay for it because we need to put some effort into allowing these people to succeed,” Westbroek said.
A motion to have the St. Andrews Lodge Historical and Cultural Society’s statement of significance referred to a consultant originally failed at council’s April 7 meeting, but was reconsidered after Westbroek offered pay for the consultation, rather than the town.
“Playing games is not going to help us. This is an important asset to the town of Qualicum Beach, it’s historic there is no question about that,” Westbroek said. “I have heard comments around in the town that perhaps we are hoping that they fail so we can tear it down and I don’t like that. I think we should put some support and encouragement into it.”
Luke Sales, director of planning for the town, did not have a quote for the cost of consultation and said the town has done multiple at one time in the past. Once the consultant is satisfied with the statement, the lodge will be added to the Community Heritage Register. This should help the society be eligible for grants to help with restoration, according to President Anne Skipsey.
Coun. Scott Harrison originally voted against the motion and moved to have the society pay for the consultation.
“They are roughly two months behind on bills their for electricity and heater,” he said. “There are a lot of significant costs associated with this that we find ourselves increasingly bearing and I do have some grave concerns that we are finding ourselves spending more and more money to deal with a process when the applicants for this said they would be covering all the costs.”
Both Filmer and Westbroek said they believe it is unfair for the society to pay bills for the building when they still do not have access to it. Sales said the society will get keys to the lodge once a formal lease agreement is agreed upon in a future in-camera meeting.
“It’s about accountability and asking people when they say they are going to do something that they should do it,” Harrison said. “No cost to the town were their words and in my view we should give them a full year to show us what can you do and so far what they have been able to do is send some rather angrily written emails and fundraise roughly $3,300 in four months plus.”
Filmer said he thinks it is unfair to blame the society for the lease agreement taking longer than expected. “We as a town are not always the easiest to work with either and I am not trying to slag staff, but it is our organization as a whole. We are not always the quickest.”