Given the business
Is Qualicum Beach unfriendly to business?
That was one question that came up repeatedly at Wednesday night’s all candidates meeting.
The answer, it seems, depends on which candidates you talk to.
“That’s a perception that is confronting the business community,” mayoral candidate Mike Wansink said. “We have to eliminate that. For instance, right now, builders can’t build downtown because the development cost charges are just too high and the town policy for creating new buildings requires commercial space on the bottom floor. We have to create policies and adjust DCCs and make them more friendly to the business community.”
Incumbent mayoral candidate Teunis Westbroek disagreed, citing the newly-opened Dolly’s Home Hardware building on Second Avenue as an example of development done right.
“Sometimes there is that perception, but look at what Home Hardware looks like,” he said. “People said we made it too difficult, but we made them put the ramp in the back and the delivery drivers love it. Sometimes it looks like we’re difficult, but we make long-term plans and we have the nicest town in British Columbia.”
Rich Mennie called on council to improve its relations with the business community.
“We benefit from a healthy business community,” he said.
“We should liaise closely with the chamber and downtown merchants to find out what they need for success. On the other hand, they need to provide the products and services that are of benefit to the community.”
Ed Woloshyn stressed that businesses need to be profitable, something that can be difficult to do when the streets roll up at 6 p.m.
Candidate Dave Willie certainly thinks the town is unfriendly to business.
“People don’t see opportunity here,” he said. “We have to bring that back.”
Bill Luchtmeijer agreed, calling the current municipal government a “no-growth council” and calling for an easing of the residential tax burden by revitalizing the downtown business core and revitalizing the tourism industry.
“What businesses are going to move into a town with a no-growth stance that is possibly losing its high school?” he asked. “Who in their right mind would want to open a business in Qualicum Beach?”
Tom Davies disagreed with that assessment, stressing the need to control growth.
“We need the right project at the right time, for the right reasons, with the right costs and for the right reasons,” he said.