The old Qualicum College has lost its heritage status and will be demolished by the property’s developer.
During a special meeting held on Wednesday, Jan. 27, Qualicum Beach council voted unanimously in favour to repeal the heritage status designation so that the owner and developer of 431 College Rd. can tear it down and rebuild a replica in its place.
The director of planning for Qualicum Beach, Luke Sales, confirmed for council that in order to repeal a heritage status designation, the repeal must go through the same process as it would for designation, by means of three readings, a public hearing and finally the adoption.
The developer of 431 College Rd. proposed to council a bylaw amendment to allow the property to have 62-unit multi-residential buildings; it is otherwise currently zoned to only allow 40 units maximum.
According to the memorandum, as presented by Sales during the meeting, the 62 units would be dispersed through four buildings, three of which still need to be constructed. Building A would have 14 units, building B would have 22 units and the new Qualicum College replica would have 10 units. The existing strata building already has 16 units.
A public hearing also took place for the residents to come forward, virtually through Zoom, to voice their concerns about the proposed developments.
Some residents came forward with concerns about population density if the new zoning amendment was approved, and potential repercussions such as increased traffic and possible drainage issues, as well as the length of time it would take to build all three new buildings.
Though most who came forward were in favour of a new development, one resident asked council not to make their decision immediately so town staff can talk to the developer and bring forward some of the recommendations so a common ground can be reached.
Qualicum Beach resident Susan Lloyd said she wasn’t sure if the town anticipated what might happen with a complex development such as whats being proposed.
“I just want to caution that I would hope that the town would get appropriate legal advice to deal with complex sites. I don’t know what was done in the past, but you can see that some of the issues that arose might not have been things that could’ve been anticipated. But I think in other respects, they could have been. And I think we have suffered as a result.”
Debbie Boyle, another resident who spoke during the public hearing, asked council to take due care with their considerations.
“You are our firewall, our protectors,” she said. “The big bad wolves that say ‘no’ when the answer should be ‘no’. You are the people we look to to make solid decisions that are in the best interest of the stakeholders in Qualicum Beach, being the town residents and not the developers. Qualicum Beach is loved for its character and unique atmosphere. When it comes down to that vote to either approve or deny the amendment application, I’m asking that you will pause for just that minute and remember who you work for, and what the area residents clearly would like you to vote. Which is ‘no’.”
During the same meeting, councillors decided they will not proceed with the zoning amendment proposal in tandem with the heritage site repeal, as they feel more time is required to consider the public’s concerns.