A multi-use village green space has been proposed for the old bus garage site in Qualicum Beach.
The site at Fern Road and Memorial Avenue was purchased by the town from School District 69 in 2011 and many ideas for development have been proposed for the property including housing, a brew pub and a community-owned cinema.
The village green space, which is in the early planning stages and is subject to change, is proposed to include a roofed open-air pavilion for year-round activities, a kitchen space with seating and tables, washrooms and a garden space with walkways, multiple benches, children’s play area and meditation stations.
Qualicum Beach resident Joe Martin and Jeremy Humpherville, owner of Coastal Carvings in Coombs, presented their concept for the village green to Qualicum Beach council at a committee of the whole meeting on May 22.
“Here’s a space where right now there’s no definite plan for it. [The village green] would basically be somewhere where people can go and be social,” Humpherville said. “It would create a green space that’s a gathering space, a social space, something that is of use for the majority of people, whether you’re a senior, a working person or a young family.”
Humpherville said, ideally, the development would provide at least 25,000 square feet of open green space.
He said in addition to the village green, multiple opportunities would still remain for other interest groups to develop on the site.
“I’m not here to take any other group off the equation,” Humpherville said.
The proposal received support from several members of the public and council.
“I really, really like the idea,” said Coun. Robert Filmer. “About six months ago when we were campaigning, the biggest thing I heard is ‘we need something like Europe has’. When you go to any town or city in Europe they all have something like this.”
Coun. Teunis Westbroek asked what the plan would be for parking if the current parking lot across from Quality Foods on the corner of Fern Road and Memorial Avenue was removed.
Humpherville said his idea as of now is to move the parking area, with 56 stalls, to the back corner of the property.
“The walk is the length of the school house and you’re at the parking,” he said.
He added that parking could also be added along Memorial Avenue in front of the proposed open-air facility.
“Parking I think is always going to be an issue at this point, but in the name of the community I think making it one large parking lot is not the best option for the town,” Humpherville said, who added that wheelchair accessible spaces would also be available.
Coun. Adam Walker asked staff what the next steps are for moving forward on the proposal.
Town director of planning Luke Sales said the town is actively working on moving forward with plans for the site.
“The Official Community Plan, which identifies that the town should be working with the School District (69) on a planning initiative for that entire area and also working on a development plan for the site,” Sales said. “The second thing is the strategic plan and the strategic plan has consultation for the Qualicum Commons property and bus garage property scheduled to begin this year and carry through next year.”
Sales added that the town is collaborating with Vancouver Island University master students who will begin to develop plans for the site in September.
In terms of financing for the village green proposal, Joe Martin said once the plan develops further, he would look into grant applications and fundraising opportunities.
Qualicum Beach resident Janet Taggart, who is a member of the Qualicum Beach Multi-Use Cinema Society, said she was very impressed with Martin and Humpherville’s vision for a village green.
“We’re really looking forward to working with this group or other groups to bring the big picture for the property together for Qualicum Beach,” she said.
Council voted unanimously in favour to request staff to proceed with the concept, gain public engagement and input and bring it forward to a future committee of the whole meeting.