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QB downtown changes move forward

Qualicum Beach council this week opted to move forward with plans to relax height restrictions on new developments in the village neighbourhood portion of the downtown core and to allow new developments to have residential units on the ground floor.

However, a move to slash offsite service charges in half failed to fly at Monday’s committee of the whole meeting.

The motion to cut offsite service charges from the current $5,000 per metre of frontage to $2,500 was made by Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer, who said that while $5,000 may not sound like a lot of money to shell out in a development, the total tab for all the frontage could prove huge.

“For a lot that’s 50 by 160 feet, they would pay $93,000 to the town before they can do anything,” he said. “If they have a lane beside their building, that jumps to $147,000. That’s a big chunk of cash for someone to develop a commercial development.”

Coun. Scott Tanner was no fan of the idea.

“If we are trying to encourage more development in some of the downtown areas, I’m not sure that reducing some of these expenditures and transferring them to the existing taxpayer is necessarily going to result in more development,” he said. “With the $5,000 reduced to $2,500, it’s a direct transfer. Any of those expenditures would be picked up by taxpayers of Qualicum Beach, rather than the developer. I think developers should pay their fair share.”

Coun. Dave Willie disagreed, stressing that while it’s fine for developers to have to pay for some offsite improvements, the town should pay for beautification measures beyond a certain point.

“Its’ not right that whoever is developing has to pay for the prettiest picture,” he said.

When it came time for a vote, Luchtmeijer’s motion failed, with Tanner, mayor Teunis Westbroek and coun. Mary Brouilette voting against it.

That vote doesn’t mean there won’t be changes, however. A recommendation from planner Luke Sales called for different levels of offsite charges, with developments in the commercial core not to exceed $5,000 per metre of street frontage and $1,000 per metre of laneway frontage. For developments outside the commercial core in areas already zoned for multi-family dwellings, this would drop to a level not exceeding $3,000 per metre of street frontage and $1,000 pe rmetre of laneway frontage. Finally, for areas outside the commercial core entirely this would drop to a level not exceeding $1,000 per metre of street frontage and the same for laneway frontage.

This recommendation was passed, with councilors Luchtmeijer and Willie voting in opposition. The votes still have to be ratified by a full council meeting.

 

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