Qualicum Beach could get taller in the downtown core.
That was one of the outcomes of a special committee of the whole meeting of town council at the community hall Monday night.
At issue were several recommendations from town staff about ways the municipality could help revitalize a crucial section of the downtown core.
That area, called the village neighbourhood, is based loosely on a 400-metre radius from the commercial core west of Jones Street and south of Fern Road.
The meeting to discuss the staff recommendations came after a public input session that saw passionate presentations from both those who see the need for change and those who fear those changes could have a negative impact on the character and charm of the community (see story, A5).
Prior to voting on the recommendations, mayor Teunis Westbroek stressed the issue would have to be ratified at a regular council meeting on July 9.
The first of the recommendations concerned height restrictions, calling for staff to prepare an amendment to the village design guidelines to remove the current maximum height restriction of three storeys — as long as the third storey is concealed in a sloped roof line.
She said her take on the public mood was one in favour of diversity in the downtown core.
“In the OCP process, the types of buildings you pointed out that you liked were not what the current OCP reads,” she said. “Most preferences were two and a half, three, four storeys. The public appeared to like diversity.”
Mayor Teunis Westbroek spoke against the move, suggesting a survey used to make the recommendations had less weight than the earlier quality of life survey that indicated a preference for the status quo.
“This survey was sent to 60 or so people,” he said. “The quality of life survey was sent to three and a half thousand homes and, consistently, people overwhelmingly supported retaining town character by retaining three floors.”
Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer saw it differently.
“It’s important that we let the private sector have their head, once design and character and benefit to the community is fulfilled,” he said. “By giving some options, we are creating certainty.”
The vote went in favour of the recommendation to open up the height restriction, with Westbroek voting against the move.
Coming off the table was a recommendation for the town to consolidate land in the area for future development, with all at the table speaking against it.
A proposal to allow residential units on the ground floor got the nod from Luchtmeijer, with the amendment to delete a section nixing strata titles on such units. This passed, with a recommendation to staff to come up with clarity on strata issues.
The other really contentious issue involved relaxation of development cost charges, or DCCs. Coun. Tanner didn’t like the idea, noting that DCCs are the cost of doing busines.
“We shouldn’t get into a race to the bottom,” he said.
“I think it’s our responsibility as a council, if we can do some stimulus, that’s what we should be doing,” she said.
This measure passed, with Westbroek and Tanner in opposition.