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Qualicum Beach town council expansion still possible

It wouldn't be a Qualicum Beach town council meeting without some navel-gazing discussion about how this group of elected officials goes about its business.

If one could devise a drinking game that would require participants to down a shot every time the word 'process' is uttered at one of these gatherings, no one would be driving home.

Governance was a topic again Monday night on two fronts, one initiated by council itself and another by a resident. Against Coun. Mary Brouilette's objections, council will get a report from staff on what is required, and when, related to adding a referendum question to the November ballots asking voters if they want to expand council from five members (the mayor and four councillors) to seven (the mayor and six councillors).

Mayor Teunis Westbroek's motion to at least look at the staff report passed after a motion by Brouilette to cancel the entire discussion was not supported by any other members of council.

"This year we have a lot going on," said Brouilette. "This is a non-critical issue. The timing is poor. I don't think it is a priority."

Later, resident Graham Riches, saying he represented a group called the Concerned Citizens of Qualicum Beach, came before council to once again complain about what he views the "rushed approval process" of the Clarion development in the village.

Riches also asked council again to build in more time and opportunity for public input into decisions. He spoke of a survey the group did and claimed "our views were shared by more than 800" of the 1,100 people surveyed.

"We heard many residents have lost faith in the council," said Riches.

By law, municipal councillors are not allowed to receive any additional feedback after a public hearing. At least once councillor, Bill Luchtmeijer, said he didn’t like that rule, but he said a town council can’t arbitrarily change the provincial legislation.

“Personally, I feel the public hearing process is very one-sided,” said Luchtmeijer. “We (councillors) get to listen and we can’t respond. It (the issue of a specific public hearing) is not open to debate or discussion.”

A visit to the website of the Concerned Citizens of Qualicum Beach this week reveled no reference to any survey, no list of the group’s officers or organizational structure, no claims of any number of members, no names of group contacts and no references to any meetings, regularly scheduled or otherwise.

Also, briefly, from town council’s meeting Monday night:

• Council learned the company that owned the property where the Crystal Terrace development on the Island Highway was supposed to go has been sold. Staff reported the new owner has committed to removing the pilings on the property and a right-of-way required in a 2012 resolution of council has been registered. Staff reported it will now issue a development permit, as per the 2012 resolution.

• Council authorized staff to enter into separate fee-for-service agreements with both Broombusters and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Both were renewals with some minor changes.

• Council gave first reading to a bylaw amending the current secondary suites bylaw. There are four changes: garden suites will be permitted on non-ALR parcels of land; the maximum size of any carriage house, garden suite or secondary suite is 90 square metres (969 square feet); the owner-occupancy requirement will be eliminated; DCCs for secondary suites within the village neighbourhood would be eliminated. Click on this link to read a story on our website from June detailing the secondary suites review plans (http://www.pqbnews.com/news/212363461.html).

• Staff reported the timelines for changing the town’s growth containment boundary and the site-specific official community plan related to the proposed Pheasant Glen development have changed. The growth containment boundary change should be ready to send to the regional district of Nanaimo by the end of March and bylaws related to OCP changes for Pheasant Glen would likely be ready for town council by June.

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