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Big ideas at centre of OCP debate

Tempers get hot at special council meeting Wednesday
Mary Bruilette ... complaining about a lack of debate on big ideas

Emotions ran high when the Town of Qualicum Beach passed third reading of the municipality’s official community plan at a special council meeting Wednesday.

In what quickly turned into a spirited debate, councillor Mary Brouilette slammed what she sees as deficiencies in the process to date.

“I have had some concerns about some parts of our OCP process,” she said. “We must respect the past and create the future through a model of innovative and imaginative planning. I fear we are penalizing, rather than being proactive in attracting businesses.”

Brouilette called on council to consider amending the document to allow consideration of private property development on lands adjacent to the airport.

“This is not to approve of any type of project,” she stressed. “It is about the right for people to be at the table for discussion.”

Her motion was supported by Coun. Jack Wilson.

“This doesn’t make common sense to me,” he said of the bylaw as it stands. “Why would we exclude property from the airport review plan just because it is privately held? What you are doing is wiping out a broad idea without any specific proposal brought forward. That’s not leadership, it’s blind, anti-development bias.”

Wilson said he was disappointed by the entire OCP process.

“I feel a sadness that we wiped out almost all the big ideas,” he said. “We are not being asked to specifically approve anything, just to entertain an idea if it is brought forward. Three of you say no out of hand and I find that frustrating.”

Wilson went further though, charging that council was throttling the vitality of the community by rejecting many of the ideas brought forward for inclusion, resulting eventually in Qualicum Beach becoming little more than a retirement community.

Mayor Teunis Westbroek responded that a recent meeting of the Chartwell Residents Association indicated that almost nobody wanted the land — which lies adjacent to their subdivision — developed in this way. Then he went on the attack.

“Both of you missed very important meetings when discussions took place,” he said. “I don’t blame you for being away, but there were good debates and you missed them. You can’t blame council for not wanting to repeat themselves because you missed a meeting.”

That clearly angered Brouilette.

“I’m gobsmacked that the mayor would bring up the Feb. 23 meeting,” she said. “This was a special meeting booked after my holiday had been booked. There were 22 resolutions and not a single one of the big ideas made it to first reading and they received no seconder. That’s not a debate.”

That’s when Coun. Barry Avis waded in, noting the meeting had been on the books for quite some time.

“I don’t want to discuss this one more time,” a furious Brouilette shot back. “This is none of your business.”

“You are making a comment against the mayor and staff has pointed out this was duly recorded last November,” Avis replied.

Brouilette’s amendment failed and council passed third reading. Final adoption is slated for May 2.