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RDN hesitant to contradict Qualicum Beach council

Qualicum Beach Coun. Scott Tanner addresses an RDN committee on Tuesday in Nanaimo. - CANDACE WU PHOTO
Qualicum Beach Coun. Scott Tanner addresses an RDN committee on Tuesday in Nanaimo.
— image credit: CANDACE WU PHOTO

Scott Tanner crossed a boundary Tuesday afternoon, a journey regional district directors would not join.

The Qualicum Beach town councillor spoke to the Regional District of Nanaimo's sustainability select committee, asking RDN directors to stop changes to the town's Growth Containment Boundary (GCB).

Tanner spoke out against his own council's recent vote to give third reading to a bylaw amending the town's Official Community Plan (OCP). Fellow Qualicum Beach Coun. Dave Willie called Tanner's move Tuesday "tacky and very unprofessional."

However, Tanner said he didn't think his personal stance displayed a conflict of interest with his own council. "One could argue that it's only at third reading," said Tanner. "The idea that decisions of council are owned by council is a debatable concept."

After hearing arguments for and against the proposed changes, the committee voted in favor of the Town’s request to amend the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) proceeding through the process of approval for a minor amendment. The request will be considered by the RDN Board at its regular meeting slated for May 27.

The changes in question require a review of the OCP to make a minor amendment to the RGS and would eliminate the need to consult with the RDN over land-use issues. While many delegates allege a proper OCP review was not undertaken by Qualicum Beach council spoiling the political process, the RDN board sided with council accepting their OCP review as legitimate.

Tanner was among 12 people who voiced their concerns about town council’s lack of transparency and poor governance in regards to changing the RGS, which many fear will lead to overpopulation and overdevelopment.

Only one person — Zweitze de Wit — spoke in favour of extending the town’s GCB to align with the municipal boundary.

While the majority of people spoke out against the town of Qualicum Beach and the proposed minor amendment, chair Joe Stanhope maintained “the RDN is not the policeman of the town of Qualicum Beach.”

Director Bill Veenhof, who represents Bowser and Deep Bay, said he would be “exceptionally uncomfortable” voting against the town’s democratic process.

“If (Qualicum Beach) residents are that upset, well, we have elections coming up,” said Veenhof. “Other than that it’s not my hardship.”

Parksville coun. Marc Lefebvre echoed Veenhof’s sentiments.

“We have a duly elected body and in our system of democracy majority rules,” he said. “It’s an issue of governance not land use.”

In light of Qualicum Beach’s political strife, Lefebvre said Parksville politicians “will have to walk around naked” to get any attention in the upcoming fall election.

Willie said town council has listened to the concerns of residents.

“This (town council) is a duly elected board and we have made a request,” he stated. “If the following council receives significant changes then so be it.”

Willie said he is willing to stand for re election this November.

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