The proposed Berwick Qualicum Beach went to third reading at Monday's council meeting with Coun. Anne Skipsey voting against the facility.

The proposed Berwick Qualicum Beach went to third reading at Monday's council meeting with Coun. Anne Skipsey voting against the facility.

Qualicum Beach council advances Berwick project

Mayor notes tour of existing seniors facilities raised no objections in advance of third reading of bylaw

 

In a 4-1 vote, the Berwick Retirement Communities proposed facility in Qualicum Beach went to third reading with Coun. Anne Skipsey voting against the development.

Skipsey gave a lengthy speech about her stance on the project at Monday’s council meeting.

“To my fellow members on council, who ran on a platform of respecting the OCP (Official Community Plan) and who didn’t support the four-storey Clarion, let me remind you that this proposal is even higher and contradicts much of what is outlined in our OCP,” said Skipsey, adding that the proposed 19.3 metres is nearly twice the allowable height.

She said she acknowledges and respects those who want to live in the Berwick facility as it’s very reputable.

“I also believe that if the proposed facility were to be built on another more suitable development site in town, that most if not all of the people who indicated support for this project would still be in support. In other words, a different location would not be a deal-breaker.”

Skipsey also said the development is a deal-breaker for her at this location since it would take away the town’s low-profile skyline.

Skipsey said the five-storey building will forever change the look and feel of the village core.

Coun. Neil Horner said while he’s not in favour of the building’s height, it would be a real shame to give up this project’s opportunity based on its height.

Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer said there are other walkable communities, such as Whistler’s downtown village, that are a pleasant and comfortable environment regardless of its five to seven storeys.

“I think we can find a hundred reasons why not to do something,” Luchtmeijer said. “But the main concern I have is that the hundred reasons are used to block something because of height and density. I really think the height and the density is appropriate in our downtown core. It ticks the boxes of our Official Community Plan. The height aspect, that’s a state of mind.”

Luchtmeijer said Berwick is a nopportunity to change the community a change which is for the good of the community.

“I think to say that our community has to be a one-storey or a two-storey community is just putting the wrong set of guidelines on what will make a pliable, busy, living environment.”

Mayor Teunis Westbroek said members of council toured the Comox and Campbell River Berwick locations and he said if council members didn’t agree with the height, then don’t entertain the idea of the development. He said at the time that he didn’t hear that from council members.

Westbroek also said the feedback they received from the community was “overwhelmingly in favour.”

While Westbroek said he is a little nervous about the height of the facility, he said he heard a very good comment from a resident at last Wednesday’s public hearing. Lance Nater, Westbroek said, told council lors they should look at the quality and function of the building rather than its height.

“You could have a three-storey box there and we couldn’t say anything about that because it’s a three-storey square box,” Westbroek said. “It could be as ugly as a chicken coop, it may come in handy for people who want to keep chickens, but it won’t look nice.”

The 94-unit, multi-residential Berwick facility first came to council in October of 2016.

Since then, there has been a public hearing period with mixed comments from residents as well as multiple public engagement meetings hosted by Berwick.

The next regular council meeting is March 20 at 7 p.m.

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