(PQB News file photo)

(PQB News file photo)

QB councillor wants municipal governments to retain power to approve construction

‘There’s a two-way street here where we want to work with developers’

Qualicum Beach Coun. Teunis Westbroek is concerned about any potential provincial government move to take away some of the permit powers municipal governments have to approve housing construction.

Housing minister David Eby indicated last month the province is considering enacting legislation and regulatory updates this fall that would remove final decision-making authority from local governments on housing permit approvals, to encourage more homes to be built in the province. He said too many housing projects have stalled at the permit approval phase due to a myriad of issues and is not helping address the housing crisis that has resulted in homelessness.

Westbroek said the plan is a “one size fits all” formula that may not work not only in Qualicum Beach but also in other parts of the province.

“I am concerned about that,” said Westbroek, who suggested during their regular council meeting March 15 they submit a resolution opposing the province’s plan and present it at the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities Convention that will take place April 1-3 in Victoria.

Westbroek made a motion for council to direct staff to draft a resolution but it did not pass. With Coun. Robert Filmer absent, the vote was tied 2-2 with Mayor Brian Wiese and Coun. Scott Harrison opposed.

“There’s a two-way street here where we want to work with developers,” said Westbroek. “We don’t intentionally want to slow them down… to have someone in Victoria tell us to approve something when we’re not ready for it, where the community did not have a chance to get involved because it’s decided by somebody in Victoria, is inappropriate.”

Harrison said the town should not be at the forefront in raising this issue but should seek the true intention of the ministry’s plans through the AVICC and also the Union of BC Municipalities.

READ MORE: B.C. announces $2B for affordable, middle-income family home projects

“I feel uncomfortable putting forward a resolution when I don’t know exactly what we would be responding to beyond suggestions and hints,” said Harrison. “I would just want to have a little bit more clarity from the provincial government what they’re planning to do first.”

Wiese said the ministry is just “firing a shot across the bow.” He said the problem with the delays in approving housing developments is happening across the province, not just in Qualicum Beach.

“I agree we should hold off at this point but keep it on the radar,” said Wiese.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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