The Town of Qualicum Beach staff is looking to create a Local Area Service bylaw along the south side of First Avenue West between Primrose and Jones streets. The bylaw would help to finance widening sidewalks and undergrounding existing overhead utilities. — Lauren Collins photo

Qualicum Beach staff looking into Local Area Service bylaw

Would provide a longterm financing wider sidewalks, undergrounding existing overhead utilities

At last week’s Qualicum Beach council meeting, council directed staff to prepare a bylaw to establish a Local Area Service along the south side of First Avenue from Primrose Street to Jones Street.

The staff recommendation comes after numerous developments along First Avenue in recent months have come forward to council. Luke Sales, director of planning, said the bylaw would provide a long-term financing mechanism to pay for infrastructure such as wider sidewalks and undergrounding existing overhead utilities.

“Those are expensive items, but we’d like to prepare a report that offers a way to share the cost between the benefitting parties; the property owners immediately adjacent and to the town,” Sales said at the May 1 meeting.

Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer wondered why the need for a Local Area Service bylaw when the town has offsite works and services requirements that dictate things such as undergrounding utilities and widening sidewalks and providing streetlighting.

“Why would we make that change now when that’s already in place?” Luchtmeijer asked.

Sales said the Local Service Area bylaw would spread the costs over a longer period of time, adding that it’s not efficient for every property owner to do a short section in front of their property.

CAO Daniel Sailland said offsites works and services are limiting, and the town wouldn’t have the ability to move forward with this Local Area Service bylaw if it weren’t for all of the developments being proposed along First Avenue West.

“The undergrounding of hydro is problematic. We can’t just do a section, we have to really focus on planning for an entire row. This would allow us to sort of nibble away at pre-approvals,” said Sailland, adding that it would allow the town to have funding set aside.

Coun. Barry Avis asked how the cost for the bylaw woul be split between the residential and commercial units.

Sales said there would be no expectations up front and that staff could craft the bylaw to say commercial pays a certain percentage and the town pays another.

“There’s a lot of flexibility here,” Sales said. “It’s not uncommon to see 100 per cent being paid for by property owners, but I don’t think that would be the case in this situation. I think that the town would be a participant, certainly, as the town and residents are benefitting.”

Also at council on Monday:

• Council referred a zoning amendment at 174 and 180 First Ave. W., a 15-unit multi-residential development with ground-floor commercial, to the Advisory Planning Commission.

• Council gave first reading to a bylaw amendment at 210 First Ave. W, a mixed-use development with 15 residential units. Luchtmeijer excused himself from the discussion because of a conflict of interest.