News

A call for delay of development

The Qualicum Beach Residents Association wants to put the brakes on the Clarion development in the village centre and is asking town council to defer the approval process until at least June.

In response, Coun. Dave Willie said the association (QBRA) is undemocratic and does the bidding of Mayor Teunis Westbroek and Coun. Scott Tanner.

The QBRA sponsored what it dubbed "a public coffee morning" at 10:30 a.m. April 24. In a news release issued April 30, the QDBA said that meeting was attended by 58 residents of Qualicum Beach. QBRA President Bill Adkins said a resolution by those in attendance directed QBRA to ask town council to defer the third reading and public hearing for the proposed five-storey, 53-unit condo project proposed for long-vacant land on First Avenue adjacent to town hall "in order to allow meaningful discussion between local residents and the developers."

"Everything is moving too fast with this project," Adkins said in the release. "It started with the very short notice by the developers for a public presentation of the project and, in short order, a majority of council approved first and second reading with the final steps of third reading and a public hearing now scheduled for May 6. A public hearing is a requirement of the local government act but it really doesn't allow for discussion."

The board of QBRA also asked the town council to amend its policy of asking proponents of large projects to consult with the public through a public presentation of their intentions. In his letter to town council, Adkins said that consultation should "be independently facilitated and collaborative in nature." Adkins continued: "The processĀ  needs to be revised if there is going to be meaningful dialogue with the community on large projects like this (Clarion)."

When contacted by The NEWS on Tuesday, Coun. Willie was hesitant to talk about the Clarion project with a public hearing on the horizon, but he wasn't shy about sharing his opinions of the QBRA.

"They get a phone call from the mayor or Scott Tanner and are told what their position will be," said Willie. "I just don't trust it (the QBRA) anymore and neither does anyone else."

Tanner is a former president of the QBRA and, like Westbroek, has voted against the first two readings of the bylaws related to the Clarion project. They passed on the strength of yay votes by Willie and councillors Mary Brouilette and Bill Luchtmeijer.

Willie said other residents' associations like Eaglecrest and Chartwell have regularly-posted meetings and function in a democratic fashion that would be foreign to the QBRA.

"They (the QBRA) are a bunch of individuals who are trying to interfere with the process," he said. "It isn't any democratic process. They (the QBRA) wouldn't know what a process looks like."

Willie said an example of the QBRA being undemocratic is both the sporadic nature and timing (10:30 a.m.) of the association's meetings. Willie said that makes it difficult for working people in their 30s and 40s to participate in the QBRA.

"They (young people and families) find themselves isolated from this (QBRA) decision-making process," said Willie. "It's time for everybody to participate. I live in Qualicum Beach but I would never join that organization because I wouldn't want to see my name with those comments (from the April 30 QBRA news release)."

In a telephone interview with The NEWS on Tuesday, Adkins responded to Willie's comments about the QBRA.

"We don't get called by them (Westbroek and Tanner) to tell us what our position will be," said Adkins. "We are quite willing to listen to anybody. We are really working hard to do some good in the community and give some people a voice."

Adkins said his group "wants to avoid conflict" but wants council to put just one meeting between the public hearing and third reading of the Clarion bylaws so councillors can get more input from the public about the proposed development.

The public hearing related to the Clarion project is scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, May 6 at town hall. Third reading of the bylaws related to the Clarion is schedule for immediately following the public hearing. The bylaws must also pass a fourth reading at a future council meeting.

Town spokesperson Patricia Huntsman said Tuesday the meeting will be moved to the civic centre if it's determined Monday night there are too many people for the council chambers to handle. Hunstman said the civic centre is available for such a move Monday night.

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