The first reading of bylaws that would clear the way for the construction of a 53-unit, mixed-use condo project across the lane from town hall in downtown Qualicum Beach spurred raucous debate at town council Monday night.
Coun. Scott Tanner and Mayor Teunis Westbroek voted in opposition to giving the bylaw first reading, but it passed on the strength of yay votes by councillors Mary Brouilette, Bill Luchtmeijer and Dave Willie.
“The form and character of this building does not fit the character of Qualicum Beach,” said Tanner. “It’s better suited for Broadway and Arbutus in Vancouver. I believe if this project goes ahead it will change the look of Qualicum Beach forever.”
“That’s what was said about this building (town hall),” said Brouilette. “Look at it now — it’s the centre of the town.”
Brouilette also commented on Tanner’s wider role as a town councillor.
“Your attitude as a representative of the community leaves me aghast,” she said.
Much of the debate centred around the height of the building. When the grade of the land was factored in, councillors couldn’t even agree if the building was four or five storeys. Tanner said it was five and he said when council agreed to relax height restrictions late last year he believed it was about allowing four storeys in the village centre instead of the traditional three storeys.
“It was not about going five or six storeys.”
There was also debate about how much the development may be paying the town for development cost charges relate to this project.
Brouilette said the land in question “has been an empty lot for a long time” and “if there’s no building there at all, you definitely don’t get any DCCs.”
Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer said he was concerned Tanner was ignoring motions passed by council previously in relation to height restrictions and DCCs, suggesting the developer of this project is following the rules set by the town.
“The concept of a council is that a majority vote of council stipulates how we do business,” said Luchtmeijer, adding that the town’s advisory planning council gave unanimous approval to the project council was currently debating.
“Every time we take a couple of steps forward we take a couple of steps back,” said Coun. Dave Willie, adding that the owner of the subject property has been paying town taxes on the land for many years and should not be treated like a “newborn” ratepayer by Tanner or the town.