Clarion condo development approved for Qualicum Beach

Controversial Qualicum Beach development, 53 units on five storeys, also gets its development permit.

An artist’s conception of The Clarion

An artist’s conception of The Clarion

A 53-unit, five-storey condo development — some residents say it could change the look and character of downtown Qualicum Beach forever — received final approval Monday night.

As it has at every turn in the process, a zoning bylaw that clears the way for The Clarion development in the vacant lot on First Avenue right beside town hall produced heated debate among town councillors Monday night.

And just like every other reading, the bylaw was adopted by a 3-2 vote, with councillors Mary Brouilette, Bill Luchtmeijer and Dave Willie in favour, Mayor Teunis Westbroek and Coun. Scott Tanner opposed.

This will be the second development (Sage at the top of Second Avenue was the first) to take advantage of a council ruling late last year that waives development cost charges entirely if certain density and green targets are met. That bylaw came into effect after the same kind of 3-2 vote.

After the vote Monday clearing the way for The Clarion, Westbroek wanted to re-visit the DCC issue, specifically asking staff to produce a report on what the town is losing in DCC revenue from The Clarion.

“It’s really not up to the mayor to keep bringing this up in a negative manner,” said Brouilette, seemingly asking the mayor to move on and support what are now the laws of the town and not waste staff time and taxpayer dollars on Westbroek’s “political dancing.”

“Why keep looking for something to pick at constantly? The (DCC-reductions) motion was passed to encourage development,” Brouilette said. “If the (Clarion) project didn’t go forward, it (revenue to the town in the form of annual property taxes) would be a big, fat zero.”

Westbroek said it was “entirely appropriate” to keep bringing up the DCC issue when a development comes to council for a bylaw reading or adoption and “if people are sensitive to the truth, then too bad.”

Council also granted The Clarion its development permit. The town’s director of planning, Luke Sales, said Wednesday it’s still early days for this project.

“A development permit is the first step,” said Sales. “They still need to apply for a building permit before they can do anything.”

The development permit expires in two years and Sales said the developer could do site preparation starting now, up to the pouring of a foundation.