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Developers and residents on the same page
Chartwell residents packed the chamber Monday night and watched as Qualicum Beach town council passed motions to start the process of developing land adjacent to their neighbourhood.
Chartwell Residents' Association (CRA) president Tom Davies didn't exactly express satisfaction with the process when he addressed council after the meeting.
"This isn't right," said Davies. "We want you guys to take charge of this thing — we will follow."
Council gave first readings Monday to both an Official Community Plan amendment and a zoning bylaw change. Councillors stressed this was just the start of a process that will include the official input of many in the community, including the Chartwell group.
"The community wants to have a say and I want to create that forum for them to have a say," said Coun. Dave Willie.
Staff presented council with a couple of options for how to proceed with any changes to the zoning of the land being called Ravensbourne Lane Business Park and both include extensive public consultation. In the end, council chose an option that could provide resolution to the issue by May, as opposed to a second option that would included a more detailed look at all lands around the airport and would likely not be completed until December.
Mayor Teunis Westbroek reiterated his concerns from a month ago relating to any types of businesses in Ravensbourne weakening the downtown core. He also said he would rather see a specific business proposal for that land come forward as opposed to an agent who is seemingly only dealing with the change in zoning at this time.
The agent for the three properties owners, Bob Colclough, disagrees. He told The NEWS this week he believes his clients are being proactive.
"This is taking an economic development approach as opposed to a development approach," said Colclough. "Historically, communities plan. What's happened, in my opinion, in the last 15 years, is reacting. This is being proactive, this is planning."
The CRA recently took pictures of, and presented in its newsletter, 67 businesses of the type it believes would be appropriate for the land in question. Colclough said "those are bang on."
"That's exactly (the type of businesses) we are looking at," he said.
Colclough said he is pleased council took the route it did Monday night and added that new business has generally not had a smooth ride when it comes to dealing with Qualicum Beach.
"Historically, the Town of Qualicum Beach has not been seen as open to new business," he said. "In the past when I told other developers about plans and they ask where and I said Qualicum Beach they said 'it'll never pass'. "
As for the type of businesses that could be situated on the land in question now, Colclough suggested possibilities include a general contractor with office and warehouse space or a mini-storage facility. He also said his clients would agree with any type of restrictions regarding no-outside activities for businesses that may take up shop at Ravensbourne.
The next step in the process council agreed to Monday night would be a public information meeting later this month. Westbroek and Coun. Scott Tanner were opposed to the zoning bylaw amendment motion, but once that passed (councillors Willie, Mary Brouilette and Bill Luchtmeijer in favour), only Tanner was opposed to choosing the option that moved the process to possible completion in May.
In other Qualicum Beach council news:
Qualicum Beach town council granted a development permit Monday night for a new 44-seat restaurant on the Island Highway between Buller and Garrett roads.
The building at 3298 Island Highway is currently used for residential, but will be renovated and expanded 363 square feet to about 1,400 square feet.
"It complies with the Official Community Plan guidelines and the zoning," said the town's director of planning Luke Sales.
The motion to grant the permit was passed unanimously.
• Six members of the public were appointed by council to the town's Select Committee on 2013 Communities in Bloom. They are: Geoff Ball, Roger Griffith, Corinne James, David James, Doreen Paterson and Wendy Shaw.
• Through a motion of council, the town has been authorized to retain the services of arts and cultural management consultant Patricia Huntsman until Dec. 31.