Qualicum Beach Coun. Barry Avis says he is tired of development talk

Avis says he believes the land in discussion off Laburnum Road is properly zoned now

A returning development proposal for the west side of Qualicum Beach frustrated one councillor and may lead to a review of the committee process.

“Anecdotally, everyone I talk to seems to be in favour of this, of seeing something, seeing the right type of development,” Livewell Cohousing’s Gary Morrison told council Monday night as a late addition delegation.

With one councillor absent at the committee of the whole (COW) meeting last week, a tie vote meant the application failed, so Morrison was back hoping the full council would “consider allowing us to move forward into the development approval process and the public consultation process.”

“I believe the zoning that’s on there now is the correct zoning,” responded Coun. Barry Avis, not hiding his frustration.

“I commend you on your ability to keep coming, I’m sure it’s costing you money, but I’m quite honestly getting a bit tired. I’m just being straight with you.”

The project started as a cohousing proposal in Parksville more than two years ago before settling on a 20-acre, rural residential zoned property at Laburnum and Claymore roads in Qualicum Beach.

Qualicum Beach director of planning Luke Sales said that while there are around 200 vacant lots in town, this is the only one of that size within the Urban Containment Boundary and not in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The original proposal that included cohousing — described as a more socially and community oriented strata — along with regular subdivided single family homes, was rejected for infringing on wetland habitat setbacks.

“At the time the idea of some very affordable cohousing did have some appeal, now we’re at the opposite end of the spectrum,” Avis said of the new proposal, which drops the 29 cohousing units for just the 29 single family homes in one corner of the property.

Later Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer said: “I think we as a council… are actually using (COW meetings) a little incorrectly… to filter out community involvement or input to council.”

He said the usual development procedure is for people to apply to the planning department, be referred to the advisory planning commission, then put before council for first reading.

“What I’m seeing now is we’re not giving them that opportunity. We’re weeding their proposal out before it actually gets to council and on the table. We have an outside committee making decisions of what we look at.”

“We have a strategic plan coming up later where we say we’re going to engage the community. Well, tonight I heard we’re tired of listening. That’s not engaging the community.”

Luchtmeijer made a notice of motion for council to develop a more specific plan for how projects get presented to council, which will come back to council at a future meeting for further discussion.

Meanwhile, Morrison is still pushing for council to send his project to public hearing, convinced the public wants it.

“We think, if given the opportunity to go to the public and consult on a broader basis, that you will get that same message.”