Boundaries fuel debate

Qualicum Beach town council looks at changing its urban containment boundaries

Coun. Dave Willie listens to discussions Monday night at Qualicum Beach town council.

Coun. Dave Willie listens to discussions Monday night at Qualicum Beach town council.

Qualicum Beach can work towards changing its urban containment boundary to be the same as the town boundary after a motion narrowly passed at a council meeting Monday night.

Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer brought forth the motion, asking staff to bring the information and procedures required to make the change to the September council meeting.

He said councillors run into issues where there are multiple layers of government with jurisdiction on private land and he would like it simplified.

“For the sake of clarity, the overlapping layers of jurisdiction create confusion,” he said. “Within the town should be governed and controlled by the Town of Qualicum Beach.”

Coun. Scott Tanner wanted to make a friendly amendment to change the wording from urban containment boundary to growth containment boundary, as the Regional District of Nanaimo has done, but that was defeated. Tanner then said he was confused by the motion and questioned whether Luchtmeijer was proposing the change to further development outside the current town boundary.

Mayor Teunis Westbroek said he had concerns changing the urban containment boundary as it is there for a purpose, he said, helping avoid urban sprawl. He doesn’t mind dealing with the other authorities, he said, as it creates more checks and balances. The urban containment boundary also makes sure that lands that are rural residential, farmland and golf courses stay that way, he said.

“I don’t want it to be too easy to change the use of those lands,” he said. “That’s long-term planning and we just got an award for long-term planning a couple of months ago.”

It would please the landowners currently outside the urban containment boundary, the mayor said, making it easier to change their land use, but he said he doesn’t think the decision would be putting the interest of Qualicum Beach residents first.

Coun. Mary Brouilette said the motion was to bring information to council and not debate whether the change would be made. She said it has nothing to do with making development easier for anyone but to make it easier for the town to manage.

Coun. Dave Willie said its about councillors making their own decisions in their community.

“If you (Westbroek) seem to be happy having others making that decision for you because you don’t trust the people around this table or the people in this community that says something about your thought process,” he said.

Willie said they are in fact seeing urban sprawl and before they pat themselves on the back they should go for a drive and see what’s going on.

The motion passed with Willie, Luchtmeijer and Brouilette in favour, and Westbroek and Tanner opposed.