The Town of Qualicum Beach hosted a marathon public hearing on Wednesday (Feb. 10) to deal with an official community plan and rezoning amendment application for a 16-parcel subdivision on a portion of Eaglecrest Drive and Island Highway.
The hearing lasted more than three hours.
Town council listened to a large amount of public input and feedback on the development, which required an OCP amendment because the proposed property is designated as estate residential and lies outside the town’s urban containment boundary.
The size of the area proposed for development is approximately 2.5 hectares but the estate residential designation specifies a maximum density of only one dwelling per hectare and a maximum of two dwellings per parcel. The proposed development is for a 16-lot subdivision which his higher than the maximum density outlined in the estate residential policy. Twelve of the 16 parcels will have two dwelling units on it.
The town will also have to extend municipal services to the area, which contravenes policy. But staff indicated services do exist on the boundary of the proposed development property and could be added at the expense of the developer.
A majority of citizens who participated in the public hearing via Zoom expressed opposition.
“Today we can all be proud that our community came together and coalesced around the ideas that we believe in; the ideas that define us. Today was a good day for democracy,” said Qualicum Nature Preservation Society president Ezra Morse. “Now the question is: will our council listen to their citizens?”
Some residents felt the project would set a precedent for other developers to follow. Some stressed developments should be restricted within the town’s urban containment boundary as the proposed site for the project has been deemed not suitable for urban development in the OCP. Others also questioned the time of the public hearing, which began at 10 a.m. They felt residents who are at work were denied an opportunity to provide feedback. Others requested a deferral of the project, particularly while council isn’t at full capacity.
At present there are two councillors, Teunis Westbroek and Scott Harrison, along with Mayor Brian Wiese. Coun. Robert Filmer has been on medical leave while former Coun. Adam Walker is now the MLA for Parksville-Qualicum and will be replaced in a coming byelection.
Those who spoke in support of the project highlighted and dispelled the misinformation that has been circulating and the notion the project will only benefit the developers.
“The (developers) have tweaked their plan numerous times to help address the variety of housing needs indicated in the OCP as well as to address requests by the town council and the director of planning,” said resident Joyce Damon. “The form and character of the variety of housing to be offered will complement the Eaglecrest and the Qualicum Beach community. As the Todsen development is to be a bare land strata, the 16 lots will be quite a boon to the Qualicum Beach tax base. Many folks will be employed on this project directly and indirectly.”
Damon said they’ve lived in Qualicum Beach for 40 years and supported many of the developments in the town.
“Qualicum Beach can take pride in its history of slow, well-planned growth,” said Damon. “But now to block all growth is to erect a tombstone on this town.”