Qualicum Beach looking for public input on increasing town council to seven

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Qualicum Beach residents will have a chance to speak on whether they want council to increase from five to seven members during a virtual committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 9.

Council directed staff to prepare a bylaw for consideration to raise council size during its Jan. 12 regular meeting.

Coun. Anne Skipsey said she would prefer to see the bylaw in the near future, rather than wait until election time.

“I think we saw the vulnerability of a five-person council over this term and that’s the minimum permissible and I think that a larger council would be better representation for the community,” Skipsey said.

The town has been governed by a mayor and four councillors since its incorporation in 1942. Given its growing population of over 9,000 residents, the town is considering increasing the number of councillors 

If it incorporated today, Qualicum Beach would be required to call itself a city and be governed by a mayor and six councillors, according to a media release from the town.

Mayor Brian Wiese said he would prefer to see the question put to a referendum.

“If it didn’t get knocked down so badly the last two times, I’d be a bit more apt to entertain it, but it got put down pretty significantly,” he said.

Skipsey suggested if council is increased by two members, in the future the six councillors’ could split the combined salaries of the current four.

Councillors Robert Filmer and Scott Harrison said they were not in favour of lowering salaries.

“I think we have to look at the cost of living and how quickly it’s gone up. If we want people to live in Qualicum Beach and be elected representatives, it’s really hard, especially if you’re renting, to find anything,” said Harrison.

Council voted unanimously in favour of seeking public input on the possible change.

The committee of the whole meeting will be held via Zoom at 10 a.m. on Feb. 9

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