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Qualicum Beach residents share input on ‘Bus Garage’ project

Concerns focus on projected increase in traffic, parking issues
A map of the property known as the ‘Bus Garage’ that the Town of Qualicum Beach wants to revitalize. (Qualicum Beach map)

Qualicum Beach residents got the chance to give their input on the town’s Bus Garage Revitalization Project.

At the Committee of the Whole meeting held on March 27, residents got the opportunity to see the draft concept design and hear the report presented by consultants Kait McGeary of PWL Partnership and and Jason Potter of Bunt & Associates.

Most of the public’s concerns were focused on the projected increase in traffic in the area and also the stress it will put on the parking situation downtown.

The town owns more than an acre of the former Bus Garage property located between the intersections of Fern Road West, Memorial Avenue and Fourth Avenue West. The rest of the property, one acre of it, is owned by Naked Naturals, who purchased the land from the town in 2021 with the intention of developing a commercial and residential building.

The town plans to create a public plaza and other amenities that will serve as a gateway to the heart of the town.

The consultants highlighted the engagement process that was undertaken to develop a conceptual design for the public plaza and the Class B cost estimate. There were reports on the mobility study, traffic analysis, on-site vehicle circulation and parking recommendations.

Nine intersections were included in the study to give a broader perspective of the issues concerning vehicular traffic, pedestrians and also the loss of parking space once the property is developed, particularly the Naked Natural building.

“The development itself is not a major traffic generator,” said Potter. “The grocery store is obviously the primary generator. But overall, the net impact in terms of the traffic operations was not found to be too significant.”

There are currently 130 public parking spaces available in the area but that is projected to be less than 30 once the public plaza is established. A survey was conducted to determine who frequently parks there and Potter said the results show half of them are people who shop at Quality Foods and PharmaSave.

“In terms of that displacement we feel that using some proper signage can direct people to some more under utilized parking that’s in other areas of the downtown,” said Potter.

In gauging the kind of program and activities the community wants to see created in the property, McGeary indicated that they held two phases of public engagement involving town staff, stakeholders, a pop-up event at the Farmer’s Market, a youth engagement event and a survey.

READ MORE: Qualicum Beach sells prime downtown property to Naked Naturals for $2.75M

“The most popular amenities that people said they would like to see were greenery and vegetation, a multi-purpose plaza, outdoor seating and a performance and event space were the most popular programming for the site,” said McGeary.

The feedback gathered was used to shape two conceptual designs for the public plaza and Bus Garage plans. The public was given an opportunity to review the two options — Arts Plaza and Kinetic Plaza — at a public workshop that was held earlier this year.

“It was unanimous, that the Arts Plaza was a preferred option,” said McGeary. “And the preference for the Arts Plaza included more green space, it had a better small town feel, a larger plaza, more flexibility of use. People liked a better parkade entrance, a wider pedestrian access along TOSH (The Old School House) and more opportunities for seating and gathering compared to option two, the Kinetic Plaza.”

The public plaza project, McGreary said, is estimated to cost $1.95 million. The development of a town surface parking lot is projected to cost $827,288.

The estimate for an underground parkade, per stall will cost an average of around $50,000 to $75,000. So for 33 stalls, the total would be between $1.65M to $2.475M excluding the ramp costs.

Mayor Teunis Westbroek said it’s a step in the right direction. It will pave the way for Naked Naturals to finally proceed with their project.

Council will get a chance to review the project at its next regular meeting and hear staff recommendations.

Michael Briones

About the Author: Michael Briones

I rejoined the PQB News team in April 2017 from the Comox Valley Echo, having previously covered sports for The NEWS in 1997.
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