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'Confusing' process continues in Qualicum Beach

One Qualicum Beach town councillor wonders aloud if town planner being ‘heavy-handed’ with Pheasant Glen proponent

The Town of Qualicum Beach needs to make its own decisions about development in the community and pay less attention to the policies and bylaws of the regional district, Coun. Dave Willie said Monday.

Willie's comments came during a town council discussion about a potential development at Pheasant Glen Golf Resort.

"This council should decide on things in this community," said Willie, who is the town's representative on the Regional District of Nanaimo's board of directors.

The discussion over the Pheasant Glen proposal has grown into a larger debate about growth containment boundaries, 180-day-stay rules and regional growth strategies. At this point, it's unclear if any of these issues will continue to delay the re-zoning and OCP amendment process Pheasant Glen must complete in order to go ahead with their plan.

The Dutton family, owners of Pheasant Glen, want to build 100 vacation homes, 60 resort cabins, a clubhouse and pavilion on their land adjacent to their championship golf course. The Duttons say the town would receive $3.5 million in development cost charges from the project, along with $500,000 a year in tax revenue.

Willie said he believes town staff should be more clear with the proponent about what it would favour on the land in question instead of "hiding behind some big bogeyman situation" related to RDN growth strategies and policies.

A planning consultant working for Pheasant Glen, Nigel Gray, addressed council and answered their questions at the beginning of the meeting Monday night. There were no decisions for council to make in regards to this development on the agenda, but there was plenty of discussion about the proposal.

Gray agreed there are "confusing" aspects to the process.

"In my 14 years, it's probably the most complicated planning framework I've seen," said Gray. "What we are doing here isn't urban or rural — it's a resort development."

Two weeks ago, town planning director Luke Sales recommended council reject the proposal. No decision was made then, as council asked for more information. It received that information Monday, which included a letter from Sales to the proponent explaining that Sales, in his provincial-government-appointed role as approving officer, could refuse to approve a subdivision plan — even if it was approved by council — if he deemed it "against the public interest."

Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer suggested that language from Sales was "heavy-handed" and "could be construed as an underlying threat."

"It's certainly not a threat," said Sales.

Council and staff will get together with RDN officials in an open meeting at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre Monday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. to discuss issues including the regional growth strategy and the urban containment boundary change procedure.