Qualicum Beach Coun. Robert Filmer. (PQB News file photo)

Qualicum Beach Coun. Robert Filmer. (PQB News file photo)

Qualicum Beach councillor takes medical leave, citing ‘toxic’ town hall environment

Filmer to step away for two months to reflect and get ‘re-energized’

A Qualicum Beach town councillor is taking a two-month medical leave, stepping away temporarily from what he calls a “very, very toxic environment.”

In a public release issued Thursday, Robert Filmer claimed bullying and harassment is “very common in council” and he is disappointed the issues are not being addressed.

“Everyone deserves the chance to work in a safe, respectful and supportive environment,” Filmer said. “It pains me to say that the Town of Qualicum Beach council currently exists in direct opposition to those values. At a moment in time when we should be finding ways to treat each other with kindness, care, and support – I am devastated to find myself in an ongoing situation where an extreme lack of vision and any meaningful leadership, has left me in an untenable position, where I fear for my health and well-being.”

Following the advice of his physician, Filmer, 22, said he will take the two-month medical leave, effective Dec. 10.

READ MORE: Qualicum Beach politician calls for more inclusiveness

“It’s not so much about the political environment,” said Filmer. “I love debating. I love disagreements. Unfortunately, this council, and it happened since day one, council has had some issues. Some members of council have gone on personal attacks. And things no longer become political but personal. Our Town Hall is currently a very, very toxic environment.”

Filmer criticized Mayor Brian Wiese for failing to establish a harmonius and safe environment.

“When council brings issues to the mayor, he uses the line ‘I am not your keeper,’” said Filmer. “In a sense that is true. The mayor is not the keeper or the boss of councillors. However, the mayor is the leader. If there is an issue, especially if that issue is bullying or harassment it is the mayor’s job to resolve that.”

Filmer said that behaviours change when council goes in-camera.

“As soon as the door is closed and we go into an in-camera meeting, the tables changed drastically,” said Filmer, who added that all residents “expect their elected representatives to behave with dignity decorum, and due diligence to the diversity of opinions and voices that exist within our community.”

Wiese, in a press release, said he respects Filmer’s participation as a member of council and his difficult decision to take care of his health first.

“It is unfortunate that Coun. Filmer has characterized the conduct of council in a negative way in his publicly issued statement released earlier today,” said Wiese. “I disagree with the allegations he has made and I’m disappointed that he has chosen to raise them in the manner he did. I want to assure the public that councillors (Scott) Harrison, (Teunis) Westbroek, and myself will continue to work towards the objectives set out in council’s strategic plan, and continue to progress towards the longterm goals in the Official Community Plan for the remainder of the council term. We look forward to welcoming Coun. Filmer back.”

Filmer said he will use the time away from council to reflect and get re-energized.

Council’s next scheduled meeting is Jan. 13, 2021. A byelection must also be held in short order to replace Coun. Adam Walker, who resigned his position after being elected as the NDP MLA for Parksville-Qualicum.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

municipal politicsqualicum beach

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Keygan Power with brother Quintin and mom Allison while camping the weekend before Keygan’s brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)
Saanich teen ‘locked inside,’ regaining speech after severe brain hemorrhage

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

North Saanich is giving local businesses a break by waving renewal fees for 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)
North Saanich waives business renewal fees for 2021

The municipality raised $48,000 from businesses licences in 2020

The Sooke school district has filled all spots for their French immersion and nature kinderagarten programs in 2021-2022 school year. Regular kindergarten registration is still open and available. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke school district gets surplus of nature, French immersion kindergarten applications

Not enough room for almost half of nature kindergarten applicants

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

Most Read