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Qualicum Beach council votes 3-2 to advance controversial housing development

Westbroek, Skipsey wanted issue deferred following dismissal of defamation lawsuit
(PQB News file photo)

Qualicum Beach council narrowly passed Official Community Plan and zoning amendment bylaw applications, to allow a 16-parcel subdivision on a 2.59-hectare portion of a property located on 850 Eaglecrest Dr./2075 Island Highway West.

Prior to the vote, there was an attempt to defer adoption of the amendment bylaws at the regular council meeting Aug. 10, due to a Supreme Court decision to dismiss a defamation lawsuit from Richard Todsen, Linda Todsen and Todsen Design & Construction Ltd against Qualicum Nature Preservation Society (QNPS) and its president, Ezra Morse.

Council voted 3-2 to advance the project, with Mayor Brian Wiese, councillors Scott Harrison and Robert Filmer in favour; and councillors Teunis Westbroek and Anne Skipsey opposed.

Westbroek mentioned the Supreme Court decision, noting he would like to read the entire judgement to gauge whether the public information hearing the town held was compromised.

“I was appalled that some of the tactics were applied,” said Westbroek. “I think we need to take another look before we proceed.”

READ MORE: Judge dismisses defamation lawsuit against Qualicum Nature Preservation Society

Coun. Anne Skipsey agreed with the Westbroek. She indicated some residents informed her they felt intimidated and were made to feel uncomfortable attending the public hearings. She made a motion to defer the adoption of the OCP and zoning amendment bylaw application until a fulsome legal opinion has been obtained.

Prior to that, Qualicum Beach staff informed council they sought legal opinion from the town’s counsel in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision being brought forward for discussion. Town planner Luke Sales read the opinion provided by the town’s lawyer.

“In my opinion, it’s unlikely that the decision in Todsens versus Morse released Aug. 8, 2020 affects the validity of the public information hearing,” the lawyer stated.

Sales added, “from the town’s perspective, our process has been solid and there aren’t any concerns from the perspective of the lawyer.”

Skipsey’s motion failed as Wiese, Harrison and Filmer were opposed.

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Michael Briones

About the Author: Michael Briones

I rejoined the PQB News team in April 2017 from the Comox Valley Echo, having previously covered sports for The NEWS in 1997.
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