First reading passed and a public hearing has been set for a bylaw amendment to the Official Community Plan which would change the Town of Qualicum Beach’s Growth Containment Boundary.
The move would mean town council would not have to consult with the Regional District of Nanaimo over land-use decisions within the town’s boundaries.
A Qualicum Beach Residents’ Association meeting on Friday saw over 70 residents listening to presentations to better understand the issue and people voiced their concerns about the change.
At the council meeting Monday, Fox and Deborah McKinley voiced their disdain for the idea, Fox adding that in his 12 years at his property in Qualicum Beach he has never seen the town as divided as it is now.
“One thing that is profoundly clear is that this complex issue should not be approved without a complete and comprehensive Official Community Plan (OCP) review,” he said.
Councillor Mary Brouilette asked director of planning Luke Sales for clarification on whether the town was meeting the required process. Sales said the current process council is now undertaking does meet provincial law requirements, and it is council that defines what the OCP review looks like.
Sales said where previous OCP reviews were larger endeavours, this is a “subtle change to the OCP” as the GCB is only in the OCP briefly.
One of the key considerations this time around is whether this is a minor amendment to the RDN’s Regional Growth Strategy, Sales said.
Fox McKinley stated in his presentation he believes this is clearly a major amendment.
Sales said the change, which would align the GCB with the town’s municipal boundary, does not imply that the rural lands outside of the town’s Urban Containment Boundary will ever be developed for urban use. The McKinleys disagreed, Deborah stating it would open the floodgates for development and she pitched a sarcastic resort proposal to help make her point.
Mayor Teunis Westbroek said 20 years ago there was a serious concern in the RDN about too much uncontrolled growth, so the GCB agreement was made.
“I think if we are going to change that I think that is a big issue because we’ll go right back to where we were 20 years ago.”
He made a motion to hold off on the Growth Containment Boundary change until the next OCP review and said that could start next year. Tanner was the only councillor to support the motion and it failed.
Luchtmiejer said that although people have insisted this amendment is happening simply to pass a proposal by Pheasant Glen, that is not the case.
“Pheasant Glen definitely did play a part in the fact that when there was a proposal by them it came to light that we had to go to people who weren’t even elected in our community to ask their approval and the more you look at that the more you realize that it is a governance issue that we need to resolve,” he said, suggesting it was probably overlooked at the last OCP review because perhaps it wasn’t relevant.
Tanner said the amendment has everything to do with Pheasant Glen.
“The second this is passed and moved down to the RDN, my understanding is the Pheasant Glen application will come forward and it will be very easy for this council to do whatever they want with Pheasant Glen if that Growth Containment Boundary doesn’t get in the way‚“ said Tanner.
The motion to give first reading to the bylaw passed with Brouilette, Luchtmiejer and Willie voting in favour and Westbroek and Tanner opposed.
There were a number of comments from the gallery following the meeting showing disapproval of the vote, including Kevin Monahan, who said the single information meeting held by the town on the issue was not well advertised and was not adequate. He felt the brakes should be put on the whole process and public consultations should be held. A public hearing is one of the most frustrating experiences, he added, because people don’t get responses from council.
A public hearing has been set for April 22 at 7 p.m. at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre.
Also, briefly, from Monday night:
• Dormers on the south facade of the College Heights heritage building may be increased in height to accommodate an elevator shaft in one of them, after council passed a motion requesting staff to prepare a development permit on the change. Council also gave second reading to eliminating the LEED silver equivalency requirement and replacing it with a Built Green requirement. And lastly, council rescinded a previous motion requiring a performance bond from the developer and instead passed a motion to accept a condition on the covenant which says the developer can’t occupy the next phase until the condition is met.
• A number of complaints regarding buskers in Qualicum Beach was the reason behind a motion to begin a regulated Street Performers Program.
Acting CAO John Marsh said although there have been compliments, there have also been a number of complaints about the noise, issues around people vying for the same location and one allegation of drug use.
“There is many cities and towns all over the town, the island, the country, the world that have buskers and it something that is enjoyed by many,” said Coun. Mary Brouilette, adding she would rather not waste the town’s cultural development and communications consultant’s time with writing guidelines.
Marsh said the idea was not to eliminate buskers, but to regulate the practice more thoroughly.
Coun. Bill Luchtmiejer said he was about to wonder whether he was still living in a small town. “The community works well as a small community and I think if there is an odd complaint that’s what we have a bylaw enforcement officer for to go and talk to them and deal with them on a personal basis.”
The motion failed.
• Heather Svenson has been appointed corporate administrator of the town. She has been with the town for about 10 years and has been the deputy corporate administrator for a number of years.
• A motion passed to issue a development permit for an eight unit development at 237 Second Avenue with a small height variance should it be needed. Councillors Tanner and Luchtmeijer, along with mayor Westbroek commented that the Jones street facade was a bit plain looking, but a motion to bring the proposal back with changes to the West facade failed. Director of planning Luke Sales said that landscaping would break up the facade.
• First reading took place to rezone a large residential lot at 274 Mill Rd. to permit two narrower lots. A restrictive covenant was set for a $2,000 contribution to the town’s affordable housing fund, detailed form and character guidelines and adherence to a green building standard. A public hearing has been set for April 22 at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre at 7 p.m.
• A motion to issue a development permit to build a buried rock wall covered by a blanket of cobbles at 1141 Butterball Drive passed by council. The foreshore protection project has been reviewed by the federal department of Fisheries and Oceans and the provincial ministry of Forests, Lands and Resource operations.