A petition started by the Qualicum Nature Preservation Society against the development of wetlands on private land in Qualicum Beach has garnered almost 2,000 signatures in less than a week.
In a press release, the society said: “the Town of Qualicum Beach allowed the development of a protected Aquatic Habitat Greenway, which is a sensitive ecosystem in the floodplain on the corner of Laburnum Road and the Island Highway.”
“We have been advised by the town that for 20 years, every development proposal for this parcel has consistently been denied due to the protective guidelines. As of today, we can see that a large section of the older second-growth forest has been removed, continued the release. “We believe this is a violation of the town’s bylaws. This activity poses an immediate threat to the habitat of a plethora of amphibians.”
The town responded, and said they haven’t approved large developments in the past due to environmental concerns, but that this isn’t the case. They said 1/10 of the land is being used, with two homes being built on the land and that an environmental report was done.
“Previous councils had the opportunity to buy this parcel and chose not to, more than once. The parcel is 10 acres, and the approved construction will be limited to approximately one acre to preserve the remaining nine acres in their natural state in perpetuity,” said Mayor Brian Wiese in a press release. “The one acre of land being cleared was identified through environmental and geotechnical reports to minimize disturbance to the remaining wetland. The owner has applied for a building permit for two homes, which is fully compliant with the existing zoning and does not require any special permits. This construction has been in planning and approvals stage for more than a 18 months.”
Ezra Morse, director of communications for the QNPS, claimed the geotechnical report wasn’t in-depth enough, and that no building at all should be taking place on the land. He said the Official Community Plan has guidelines meant to protect environmentally sensitive areas.
“It doesn’t matter if they’re building a mall or a mansion or a cabin, there are guidelines and requirements and those requirements exist because we as a community have agreed that we wanted to preserve that land,” he said.
“As a community that values sustainability, we collectively agreed to protect and preserve the wetlands by Laburnum for generations. We designated this sensitive ecosystem as an Aquatic Habitat Greenway (G5), and created guidelines to shield the at-risk wetland inhabitants,” reads the petition description.
Morse said he thinks allowing building like this is setting a dangerous precedent.
“The reality is, if development is allowed in our development permit areas, contrary to our guidelines, that means all ecosystems that are protected, all wetlands in Qualicum Beach, are now open for development.”
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