The Qualicum Beach council gave third reading to proposed Official Community Plan and zoning amendment bylaws to allow a 16-parcel subdivision to be developed on the Estate Properties located on 2075 Island Highway/850 Eaglecrest Dr.
Council voted on the much-debated amendment application at its regular meeting on May 18. The vote was 3-2 with mayor Brian Wiese, councillors Scott Harrison and Robert Filmer in favour and councillors Teunis Westbroek and Anne Skipsey opposed.
Harrison said this was arguably one of the most difficult issues council has faced during their term. He said the development will feature single-family units, duplexes and also include either garden suites or secondary suites, which the OCP allows. And in reaching his decision, he factored the extent of the housing shortage in the town and feels the benefits slightly outweighs the downside.
Skipsey said there have been much input and questions raised against the zoning and OCP amendments, particularly the location of the project which involves part of the estate residential land.
“(It) is in conflict with multiple sections and the spirit of much of the Official Community Plan,” said Skipsey. “And this was the basis of why so many residents we heard from opposed the project. Also, that being part of the estate residential properties this proposal I believe should not be dealt with as a one-off and that we would just go ahead with this and deal with the rest later. I think that there should be comprehensive planning for the Estate Residential properties and that should happen during an OCP review when there is plenty of opportunity for the public to be engaged and consulted and room for discussion.”
The developers have applied to the town to rezone the area from Residential 1 (R1) to Residential 12 (R12) and change Subdivision District B designation to Subdivision District D for their project. They also requested the OCP amended as the property is on the designated Estate Residential and is outside the Urban Containment Boundary.
Westbroek said he unsuccessfully recommended to include the property in the Urban Containment Boundary at the last OCP review in 2018.
“I think this should go to the next OCP review (in 2023) because I tried it and it failed,” said Westbroek. “And to bring it in through the back door in the sense now, to me is not right. If this fails, then I would move that it be deferred to the next OCP review.”
Coun. Robert Filmer said the town did the project a great disservice at the last OCP review.
“They just decided to keep everything just the same,” said Filmer. “I believe before the OCP review the project was told, ‘we’re gonna wait and I recommend you wait until the OCP review.’ And so this project was put on hold and the developer kept the project on hold for the OCP review and council just kept it by the wayside and is stuck as is. That’s where we’re stuck with. I think it’s unfair to them to move the project for another four, which would be six years, before we consider something again.”
Mayor Brian Wiese indicated council has been dealing with the project for 34 months and requested a myriad of amendments from the developers which include making the development a strata, three land-lift appraisals, and removal of the parks and trails in lieu of cash.
“We have gone after numerous things over 34 months and then come to this meeting and go, ‘I don’t know,’” said Wiese, later noting: “I think it’s a good project and I understand both sides of the argument.”