Affordable housing debate leads to close vote on development for Qualicum Beach

Coun. Anne Skipsey concerned the project is set up for only one kind of demographic

Affordable housing was a hot topic at Qualicum Beach town council on Monday night during a 3-2 vote on a bylaw amendment.

The amendment was for 246 Mill Rd., which passed third reading. Mayor Teunis Westbroek and councillor Bill Luchtmeijer and Neil Horner were in favour, with Anne Skipsey and Barry Avis opposed.

Skipsey’s concerns centred around the one-level design of the development. She said that design is for one demographic only.

“What happened to building houses that are suitable for families?” she asked at council’s regular meeting Monday. “I get high density. I understand that’s what we’re trying to do. I’m questioning if this is the way. What is wrong with a two-storey building?”

Another concern for Skipsey was the 65 per cent parcel coverage as opposed to the usual 42 per cent parcel coverage. Skipsey asked if there were any other developments in the area with the same parcel coverage, and staff couldn’t find one within the village neighbourhood.

“I think some of the density has to be a bit gradual and sensitive to people, not just drastic changes,” Skipsey said.

Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer said it’s a very small step in the right direction.

“Everyone seems to recognize the need because I hear it said at this table all the time,” Luchtmeijer said. “We’re short on housing. We don’t have rental housing. We don’t have affordable housing. We need to find housing. Now we’ve got an opportunity to take two lots and put three houses on them.”

With this development, Luchtmeijer said, they’re ticking off all of the concerns that they hear around the table. He added that now council is having discussions where they can’t support the development.

“I think we have to, as a council, make up our minds,” he said. “Do we really want to go there, or do we just want to crawl back into the hole and pull a cover over us and ignore the fact that we are short on housing, particularly on the affordable side?”

Luchtmeijer referenced the recent development proposal on Laburnum Road which will be a 10-unit development, which is down from the original proposal of 60 units.

“I think we need to get our priorities in order and focus on the issues. I think this helps us address one of those issues, and that’s where do we put people at a reasonable price?”

The next regular council meeting is Jan. 16, 2017 at

7 p.m.

Also Monday night:

• Council requested that the Advisory Planning Commission meetings be recorded and the recordings made available on the town’s website.

• Council directed staff to submit a letter of support on behalf of the Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association to host the Tourism Vancouver Island 2018 conference and annual general meeting.

• Council directed staff to purchase three tents for use at town-produced community events, such as Beach Day and Family Day, and to establish a presence at events such as trade shows.

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