Qualicum Beach council has approved a bylaw that would allow funding for the proposed Downtown East Village Revitalization project, to be financed through a longterm loan.
The first phase of the project is now complete but the second phase along Second Avenue East, that includes public realm improvements, still needs to be achieved. It will cost $1,345,000.
Council wants the project to advance before their term is over. They gave first, second and third reading to the East Village Local Area Service Bylaw and also the loan authorization bylaw at its regular council meeting on Jan. 12.
The East Village project is geared toward creating a commercial and residential village that will attract tourists, professionals, families, seniors and residents. It entails diverse housing options, mixed-use commercial and residential space, and other amenities that aims to enhance community vitality and visitor attraction in the area.
“The intention of this is not to be funded by the town,” said Coun. Scott Harrison. “The town borrows the money but then it’s actually the payments are being made by the business owners.”
Coun. Anne Skipsey voted against borrowing. She wanted the issue deferred and discussed during budget deliberations as she believes it could impact the town’s borrowing abilities for other projects and capital expenditures.
Coun. Teunis Westbroek indicated he is normally against borrowing money as the town has always prided itself for having low debt or very little debt. But this case is different, he said.
“Because the loan servicing, the interest, would also be covered by the payments by the proponents, I’m OK with that,” said Westbroek. “I think we can work around other areas if we need to do more. I think we have some other options for covering the costs of other town projects. But this one is a nice clean separation of what the town pays for and what the property owners pay for. So separating it out and borrowing it separately, charging the interest to the project of the proponents is fine.”
Mayor Brian Wiese was also in favour of the loan bylaw and wants to see the project come to fruition.
“This has been going on for a very long time,” said Wiese. “I can’t think of any project that the town has done that we spent more time on than this one. Staff time and a lot of hard work has gone into that by the proponents. Some people have taken the leap already as in the brew pub down there. And I think we need to follow through. You know this is what we’ve planned on since day one and we need it as a council to follow through.”
The concept for the Second Ave East development is to create a pedestrian and cyclist-friendly streetscape that, along with retail development, would function as a community gathering place.