Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek isn’t a fan of the province’s new housing legislation, which would force local governments to amend their development processes and procedures to allow more housing units to be built.
Westbroek said there are a myriad of concerns the province is not taking into consideration in establishing new housing regulations. One of the proposals is to allow standard residential lots to have three to four units which Westbroek indicated, when it happens, will likely impact the region’s water supply and other infrastructure, as well as increase the need for policing, fire services, schools and health care facilities.
At the Nov. 8 regular council meeting, Westbroek took proactive action when he made a motion that council direct staff to prepare an official community plan amendment that would update the urban containment boundary to be aligned with the boundaries of the village neighbourhood.
“What the minister is saying, we want higher density inside the urban containment boundary,” said Westbroek. “That area that we call village neighbourhood was planned for higher density so we’re not undermining him or working against him. We’re aligning ourselves with him to identify the area that we think, we can accommodate as far as our services are concerned.”
Director of planning Luke Sales said the proposed provincial legislation is still in progress, but expects it to have significant implications on the town.
“I do think that the town should be forward-thinking in adapting to the coming changes,” said Sales.
Staff recommended instead council direct staff to prepare a report on the process and timelines for amendment of the Town’s Official Community Plan including, but not necessarily limited to, update of the Urban Containment Boundary (UCB) for alignment with the boundaries of the village neighbourhood. Council endorsed this as well as the staff suggestion to update the zoning bylaw.
Coun. Scott Harrison wanted the motions deferred until they receive more information on the proposed housing legislation policy. He also didn’t want to give the provincial government the impression that the town is trying to work around the proposed new legislation.
Harrison’s motion did not pass, as Westbroek and councillors Anne Skipsey and Petronella Vander Valk were opposed.
“We have to make sure that our town is going to function as far as our services are concerned and amenities,” said Westbroek, who pointed out that other communities like Langford are also struggling with the same issues.
At the last Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) conference, Westbroek said a motion was passed that encouraged the province to consult with local governments but it was ignored.
Westbroek indicated the new housing legislation will take away the local governments’ jurisdiction on zoning policies, height restrictions, location where development should take place and parking.
“This blindsided us completely,” said Westbroek. “It’s going to take over our agenda… this term’s agenda about this kind of thing where we all of a sudden have to change direction, change course… like you said Councillor Harrison, this will affect our urban containment, our OCP review and everything else that we do in regards of that. So I think this is the right approach for discussion.”
Sales said a very key question is how much development and growth can the town’s infrastructure handle. He indicated once the information regarding the new legislation has be been received, staff will have to assess the town’s infrastructure plans for any amendments but the task will take longer to achieve.
Staff also asked council to defer to 2027 or beyond all of the town’s strategic initiatives related to land use planning, not already in progress, with the exception of the Quality of Life Survey which should be delivered once the town has better understanding of the contents of the provincial housing policy manual that will be released in December.
The motion was defeated 2-3 with councillors Jean Young, Harrison and Skipsey opposed.