The unique and challenging year that was 2021, a year dominated again by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, has drawn to a close. While the coronavirus stories took centre stage much of the year, there was still plenty of other news in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area. Here’s a look back at highlights from the PQB News from February.
• 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.
• Qualicum Beach officials laid out a plan for the future of the historic St. Andrews Lodge.
Luke Sales, director of planning for the town, presented staff recommendations for the restoration of the lodge to council on Wednesday, Jan. 27. The same staff recommendations initially went before council during the Dec. 9 meeting, but were deferred to allow the formation of the St. Andrews Lodge Historical and Cultural Society (SALHCS). The recommendations include: bringing the structure up to B.C. building code standards; provincial flood hazard area land use management guidelines; the town’s seismic evaluations policy; and the town’s green building policy.
• Town of Qualicum Beach officials got an opportunity to see first-hand the design of a proposed affordable housing project located on a property at Railway Street and Village Way.
David Simpson of DYS Architecture presented drawings and renderings to council at its regular meeting on Feb. 3. The project, spearheaded by the Qualicum-Parksville Kiwanis Housing Society, proposes an affordable 56-unit multi-residential development on the town-owned land. It will feature an apartment building with 48 rental units and a separate eight townhouses. The society has leased the property from the town for 60 years to construct and operate the building. The land, approximately 7,690 square metres, was rezoned in early 2020. The proposed five-storey apartment building will feature a mix of studio, two-bedroom and three bedroom units. Coun. Teunis Westbroek asked what the rental rates were going to be and the proponents indicated rental for a studio apartment is projected to be $375 per month, while the two-bedroom units will be $560.
• The owners of Eaglecrest Golf Club have informed the Town of Qualicum Beach they are not interested in proceeding with the latest five-year lease council proposed on Jan. 27.
Council amended the rate in the lease agreement with Semiahmoo Golf Centre for use of the townowned 17th fairway and the 18th tee box at the course. The latest offer entailed a five-year lease for the 17th fairway, based on the current rate of $1,902 for 2021, and a two per cent annual increase for the subsequent four years. For the 18th tee box the current lease rate of $376 for the first year would be maintained and a two per cent hike each year in the next four years.
• “High-beam monsters” are causing nightmares in Qualicum Beach.
Some residents in Qualicum Beach report struggling to get much-needed sleep at night and blame LED lights the town uses to illuminate the streets and other parts of the community. One resident, Randi Stevenson, wrote a letter to raise concerns with town council.
“I realized our streetlights may have been considered too dim in the past but when did we get these new high-beam monsters installed?” Stevenson asked. “I can no longer experience normal night darkness and they are truly af fecting my sleep cycle.”
Stevenson requested the town tone down the brightness, turn them off or dim them through the overnight hours.
• Parksville’s Anson McGorman has been named among the top 15 prospects on the Canadian Baseball Network 2021 draft list.
The former Parksville Royals standout, who now attends Vauxhall Academy of Baseball in Alberta, is ranked 13th and is one of two players on Vancouver Island and one of four in British Columbia included in the CBN draft list.
• A guilty plea was entered in the case of a fatal hit-and-run on Aug. 24, 2019 that claimed the life of a Parksville man.
Documents indicate Ryan John Grob pleaded guilty Friday in Nanaimo provincial court to impaired driving causing death. Spencer Alexander Moore, 32, died following the incident.
A memorial was set up on Hirst Avenue in Moore’s memory and a celebration of life held on Nov. 16, 2019.
• With Environment Canada issuing a storm warning for east Vancouver Island late last week, Rev. Christine Muise was very worried about the safety for those left in the cold. As a founding member of OHEART, a group of nine Parksville Qualicum Beach area churches that advocate for shelters, Muise said there are still no warm, dry and safe spaces for people experiencing homelessness in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.
“Even having a place to go to the washroom is unavailable,” she said. “Parksville’s Church of Ascension started to offer showers a few times a week since October, but beyond that there is no access to those kinds of services.”
• A third-party investigation, following a leave of absence taken by Qualicum Beach Coun. Robert Filmer, found no evidence of discrimination, bullying or harrassment.
In December 2020, Filmer publicly announced he was taking a two-month leave from council, citing a “toxic” environment. In his statements to media, he indicated his leave was a result of what he believed to be age and sexual orientation discrimination. The town immediately initiated the third-party investigation. The goal, according to a town press release issued Feb. 9, was to independently and impartially examine the allegations through a series of interviews, a review of written evidence, video evidence, policy and law. Later on Feb. 9, Filmer issued a statement that called the release “extremely misleading” and added it only tells “part of the story.”
• A quick-thinking eight-year-old boy helped avert a potential nightmare scenario in Qualicum Beach.
The boy’s father, Aaron Johnson, had stopped in his truck at the town Shell station at 2712 Island Hwy W. He and the youngster’s older brother quickly ran into the store, with the younger boy choosing to stay behind. Within seconds, a random woman jumped into the vehicle and began driving away with the boy still inside.
“My son said he was banging on the window and just saying over and over, ‘please let me out, please let me out.’ And he had been very stern with her,” said the boy’s mother, Dallas Kobylnyk.
According to the boy’s statement, the woman listened and pulled over along Memorial Avenue. The boy scrambled out and ran back to alert his father. Police said the woman was taken to hospital for assessment.
• Retired Parksville educator Mary Beil is an avid runner who had to curtail her training for eight weeks when she got her gall bladder removed in October. cThe Oceanside Running Club Association member had to start training all over again applying the walk/run program that she learned from ORCA’s Learn to Run Clinic.
Beil said she’s been focusing on increasing the run portion of her training. She set a goal to run a 10K distance at the end of February and also use it to raise funds for the Coldest Nights of the Year.
— NEWS Staff