Tall fences make good neighbours

Chesapeake’s restaurant burned down in Qualicum Beach in the fall of 2006. The property owner says town delays in 2007 mean the land will sit vacant for some time to come. - News file photo
Chesapeake’s restaurant burned down in Qualicum Beach in the fall of 2006. The property owner says town delays in 2007 mean the land will sit vacant for some time to come.
— image credit: News file photo

The site of the old Chesapeake’s Restaurant on the Qualicum Beach waterfront is not going to change anytime soon, despite council’s wishes to the contrary.

The building burned down in 2006 and has sat fenced off and vacant ever since.

The issue of the site’s condition was raised at Monday night’s regular council meeting when Coun. Jack Wilson requested action to clean up the site before the start of the summer tourist season.

“It has a fence around it and I suggest it be remediated,” Wilson said. “This is the start of tourist season. It should be done quickly rather than wait a number of months.”

In response, chief administrative officer Mark Brown noted staff have been working on the issue for some time, without success.

“The fence is a good thing to have at the current time,” he said. “It’s not the nicest fence, but there is still an ongoing issue of the footings behind that fence, as well as insurance and legal issues. However, we will pursue with the owners about making the fencing more aesthetically pleasing.”

He’s not likely to find owner Bruce Duckworth all that interested in the plan.

“I have not had any negotiations with the town for about four years,” he said. “They are too difficult to work with. The plan at this stage is to remain the same. If they want to pay for it, they can make it prettier.”

Duckworth said he had his ducks in a row a year after the blaze and his tenant was ready to move back in, when he hit a stumbling block with the town.

“I had plans drawn and everything was done, ready to go ahead,” he said. “ The building was drawn. The  variance board said it was fine to go, but it came to one person’s opinion that the town would need 10 feet of waterfront for them to grant variances on the side facing tourist info centre so we could put glass on it like it was. They said that’s what we’d like to see and I said it stays as it is.”

Duckworth said the plan had been to extend the walking path along the waterfront, but said the move would pose both a security and privacy concern.

“Where was the path going to go to? The back of my building,” he said. 

Now, Duckworth said he has no immediate plans to rebuild on the site.

“In these economic times, who is going to try to put a restaurant in?” he asked. “Five years ago people were willing to be back in there within a year. They’re long gone now. All of them. Who is going to try to put up a three quarter of a million dollar building when they have no tenants?”


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