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I attended the recent public hearing on the proposed changes to the Urban Containment Boundaries for Qualicum Beach where they could be moved to align with the municipal boundaries.
This would remove the requirement that the town consult with the Regional District of Nanaimo, which has a broader responsibility to determine where village commerce shall occur. With the this move, Qualicum Beach town council then could shuffle areas and zoning during regular meetings, requiring less public consultation.
The small turnout of residents appeared even less by the layout, whereby they were seated at tables and with the intent that each table would discuss the pros and cons and submit their views on paper, to be reviewed later by staff. As far as possible a member of council sat at each table.
I stated that it was customary for Official Community Plans to be reviewed and changed after extensive public consultation every five years and asked the question of how many changes had the present council made since being elected. The council member at my table would not answer nor discuss the issue, nor would the staff member who came by. However, a council member at the table behind me jumped in and became so hostile that I put my comment on a paper and left the meeting.
My observation at the previous hearings that I have attended is, regardless of how much input given at the hearings, town council has passed the revisions without any changes. Unfortunately, when we are electing members of council, we learn very little of their vision at an all-candidates meeting, as we are often limited to one question, so we are unable to assess their objectives.
The question for us is: do we need checks and balances or should the council be given free rein, only being held to account at the next election?
Arthur N. Skipsey