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Growth containment boundary in Qualicum Beach may change

Town council has chosen a path related to Pheasant Glen's proposed development that could see both a re-worked official community plan and a change in Qualicum Beach's growth containment boundary in regional district hands by April.

How long it takes the Regional District of Nanaimo to deal with the changes is unclear.

"I haven't been able to get a definite answer on how long that would take," said the town's director of planning, Luke Sales. "Regional district staff tend not to second guess (municipalities), but in the end, the regional district board will make the final determination."

The move to make the town's growth containment boundary the same as the town boundary was the first step council took Monday night at its regular meeting in front of about 100 spectators at the civic centre.

"I think it's important this is the first step," said Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer. "It makes it clear, simple and the same for everyone in town."

Coun. Dave Willie, the town's representative on the regional district board of directors, said it's important elected officials of Qualicum Beach control the town's growth. He said growth in a community is controlled by official community plans and zoning debates/bylaws at the council table.

"You don't do it by putting layers of outside government on top of it," said Willie.

Coun. Scott Tanner agreed, saying "it's almost unfair to ask (a regional district director) from Cedar or the City of Nanaimo" to make decisions about Qualicum Beach development issues.

Coun. Mary Brouilette said she has supported the notion of the growth containment boundary being one with the town boundary for five years.

"Now we won't have to go through the whole (regional district approval) process every time someone comes up with a big idea or a little idea," said Brouilette.

The motion passed unanimously.

Council then had two options to deal with the required OCP review for Pheasant Glen's application, one which looked at the specific site of the development and another that encompassed the wider, south Qualicum Beach area.

The Dutton family, owners of Pheasant Glen, want to build 100 single-family homes, 60 resort cabins, a clubhouse and pavilion on their land adjacent to their championship golf course. The Duttons say the town would receive $3.5 million in development cost charges from the project, along with $500,000 a year in tax revenue.

The Duttons had approval years ago for 220 resort homes, but, as Sales said Monday, "the developer has made the case that the existing zoning is not financially viable." Pheasant Glen needs a change in the OCP and zoning to go forward with its new plan.

Council passed a motion Monday night to go with the site-specific OCP review, which will include work by a consultant and a public hearing before being passed to the regional district for approval in April. Tanner tried, unsuccessfully, to get the consultant's work billed to the Duttons instead of the town.

Mayor Teunis Westbroek and others on council also urged the public to remember there will be more public hearings and chances for public input when the Pheasant Glen proposal comes back from the regional district and heads into zoning and development permit stages.

• Before any discussion about Pheasant Glen began Monday, Neil Horner, a resident of the regional district, asked to be added as a late delegation. Horner asked Willie to recuse himself from all votes related to the Pheasant Glen development because Horner said four members of the Dutton family contributed a total of $800 to Willie's campaign prior to the 2011 municipal election.

Willie, who did vote on issues related to Pheasant Glen on Monday night, said later he did not believe he was in a position of conflict.

"I'm sure if you went through the list there are some people here that have publicly expressed their disappointment in the project and expressed that they don't support the project and you'll probably find a few of those are also on my list (of contributors)," said Willie.

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