The rendering shows the proposed roundabout at Memorial Avenue and Highway 19A, which the Qualicum Beach Residents’ Association is hoping to block with a letter to the province. — Artist renderings courtesy of LANARC

The rendering shows the proposed roundabout at Memorial Avenue and Highway 19A, which the Qualicum Beach Residents’ Association is hoping to block with a letter to the province. — Artist renderings courtesy of LANARC

Group asks province to block planned Qualicum Beach roundabout

Letter calls on prov. to deny crown land, but land not needed for roundabout: planner

The Qualicum Beach Residents’ Association is lobbying a provincial ministry to not hand over Crown land to the Town of Qualicum Beach.

The QBRA’s hope is that, in denying the town the Crown land, the town would not be able to go ahead with building a roundabout at the intersection of Highway 19A and Memorial Avenue.

“The town’s request for disposition of Crown land is, we believe, critical to constructing a roundabout that many believe is unnecessary and unwanted,” reads an email from QBRA president Lance Nater, which goes on to provide a news release detailing the letter sent to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

However, the town’s director of planning, Luke Sales, and its chief administrative officer, Daniel Sailland, said no Crown land is needed for the roundabout itself.

“The roundabout would fit entirely on town land,” said Sales, albeit with a minor change to a section of pathway.

“If you look at the actual map, almost all of the land that the town is applying for is for the estuary portion, and also for the protection, the green shores protection.”

The roundabout is part of phase 3 of an upgrade to Memorial Avenue. The third phase, estimated to cost $6.8 million, includes $1.7 million for a bike path and overlay from Village Way to Crescent Way, $1.745 million for the roundabout and $2.22 million for foreshore, Beach Creek and estuary improvement.

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In its news release to the NEWS, the QBRA notes that it is in support of the planned sewer repair, the revamp of the estuary and the establishment of a breakwater to protect from erosion, but comes to the conclusion that Crown land isn’t needed for those projects.

When told that the town doesn’t need Crown land to build the roundabout, Nater said, “That’s not possible.”

Asked why the QBRA is against the roundabout, Nater said, “We feel that the majority of the public does not want a roundabout to be built there.”

The QBRA’s new release notes a petition opposing the roundabout that garnered 875 signatures, though Nater noted that petition was not done by the QBRA but a neighbour of his.

In terms of the QBRA’s opposition, he also said that the group feels a roundabout doesn’t fit at the intersection because of the need for entrances and exits to the Qualicum Beach Inn and the Shell gas station, which he said they feel compromises the safety of the roundabout. He also said that the town has promised for years to build a roundabout at Village Way and Highway 19A, but instead switched to this roundabout with comparatively little warning.

“We’re not opposed to roundabouts. In fact I personally happen to like them,” said Nater.

Sailland, Sales and Mayor Teunis Westbroek said the QBRA’s letter to the ministry was news to them.

“I’m a little disappointed, but not surprised,” said Westbroek of the group’s opposition.

He said the town has encountered similar opposition to other projects, like the construction of the ring road around the town 10 years ago.

It caused delays and cost the town more money, he said.

Westbroek noted that a traffic study eight or nine years ago resulted in several intersections that could use roundabouts, including the intersection of Village Way and Highway 19A by Eaglecrest golf course.

“I’m totally in favour of roundabouts,” he said. “I was hoping we could do the Eaglecrest one sooner, but we got a grant for this (Memorial Avenue) project, so we are focusing on that.”

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Sales said the roundabout is expected to help reduce the number of traffic accidents at the intersection, slow driving speeds and therefore reduce the severity of whatever accidents do still occur.

“We’re following the provincial guidelines in that roundabouts should be the default choice for intersection control,” he said.

Westbroek estimated that the roundabout project will likely have to be decided on by a future council, with the municipal elections scheduled for Oct. 17.

Sailland said that some points of clarification on the project will be brought up at the next council meeting, scheduled for Sept. 17.