Following a public information meeting last week in which some residents said the draft Official Community Plan did not reflect the Quality of Life survey results, Qualicum Beach council has made some amendments to the document to reflect the survey results.
But some of those changes didn’t sit well with some council members.
Town council held two special council meetings Monday and Tuesday to discuss the draft OCP, following last Wednesday’s public information meeting. Council went through the document page by page to make the amendments.
However, at the start of Tuesday’s meeting, Coun. Anne Skipsey said she had “an uneasy feeling” over what transpired in the first meeting one night earlier.
“I’m very concerned about the number of changes that council has taken the liberty to make, and I would include myself in that,” said Skipsey, adding the changes bring into question the purpose of the two-year process.
“To start striking fundamental objectives, policies and values because we, personally, don’t like them or because once upon a time they caused some raised eyes; I don’t think is honouring the process.”
In response, Coun. Neil Horner said, “We were elected to this council to make decisions, so let’s get to work.”
After Tuesday’s meeting, Horner told The NEWS that he didn’t agree with Skipsey’s comment, which he said “put two years of hard work at risk.”
Avis said he agreed with Skipsey and suggested keeping a record of all the motions made for further review which staff agreed to do.
The first discussion Monday was a direct follow up to comments made last week by former OCP review steering committee chair Kevin Monahan, which addressed the lack of clarity in the draft.
Horner said the document should follow Monahan’s suggestion about clarifying the directives and the recommendations because of confusing language.
“The directives, he indicated, must not say ‘should’ or ‘could,’ but rather ‘shall’ and ‘must.’ Similarly recommendations should not say ‘shall’ or ‘must,’ but rather ‘should’ and ‘could,’” Horner said.
CAO Daniel Sailland said staff did make note of it and will be reviewing the additional recommendations made along the way. He said staff wants to look at condensing the document after receiving comments that the draft is too long.
Avis said the draft should also include Monahan’s suggestion about the three-storey height limit in the village neighbourhood.
“It was pointed out in our Quality of Life survey (results) — and we’ve got to listen to the people — that the residents of Qualicum Beach wanted three-storey (limits), and anything other than that… should be an exception.”
Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer said he disagrees with using the “carte blanche” statement of a three-storey height maximum.
“I think there are places where we should be encouraging some alternate thinking, other than the ‘You can’t go more than 30 feet off the ground in the Town of Qualicum Beach’ because there are some opportunities in town,” said Luchtmeijer, referring to the Berwick Qualicum Beach development next door to town hall and The Gardens at Qualicum Beach.
Mayor Teunis Westbroek suggested including the three-storey limit reference in the document but with some “flexibility.”
He made a motion for the amendment to include the three-storey limit with flexibility “to make people aware that it’s what we like to see, but we make some exceptions.”
However, Luchtmeijer said, the OCP shouldn’t be a restrictive document.
He also said the vision statement should include an economic strategy.
“We’re sort of floating along by the seat of our pants, and I see that comments like ‘Let’s go three-storey (limit) and put it in the OCP.’ Well that ignores some of the economic development aspects by creating a set of restrictions.
“The OCP shouldn’t be a document that restricts actions in Qualicum Beach. It should be a document that directs actions in Qualicum Beach and encourages some creative thinking.”
The document, Luchtmeijer said, is ignoring economic development altogether.
The draft OCP has been given first reading by council. Second reading is expected at council’s April 16 regular meeting.