What started as a meeting to inform the public on changes in the Official Community Plan draft, devolved into who would be running — and who wouldn’t be running — for mayor and council in the upcoming municipal election in October.
The Town of Qualicum Beach hosted a public information meeting Wednesday on its Official Community Plan draft.
Director of planning Luke Sales started off the evening with a presentation on changes in the draft OCP, which was followed by a question-and-answer period.
Zweitse de Wit, who has consistently pushed council and staff about the need for housing within the town, pointed out two parcels of land the town owns; one in west Qualicum Beach, near the ring road, and one on the east side of town, adjacent to the airport lands. The two lands were recently voted to be included in the urban containment boundary by the committee of the whole.
de Wit, who owns property on Berwick Road which was not included in the UCB, referenced the Quality of Life survey which shows 69 per cent of respondents were in favour of “increase densities for residential areas within walking distance to uptown.”
He said he’s tried to create options with council and staff and tried to “improve land that’s within walking distance of the town to no avail.”
“I have cautioned council and staff in council meetings and committee of the whole meetings, that it would be the final draft that would determine whether or not the process was fair, and that the final draft would be reflective of the Quality of Life survey,” said de Wit, adding that in his opinion it doesn’t reflect the survey results.
Because of that, de Wit said he felt compelled to potentially run for mayor, and “we’ll see if my view of some growth is accepted by the community.”
Resident Robert Filmer also announced at the meeting he would be running for council. And as people got to up to speak on the draft OCP, they jokingly made a note of saying they would not be running for mayor or council.
Joyce Daman, who spoke on behalf the the Eaglecrest Residents’ Association, said the provision for any increase in needed housing seems to be missing from the draft OCP.
“Where is any affordable housing, rental housing or any type of housing going to come from? Moving the Urban Containment Boundary to be contiguous with the town boundary would be a big step and would end the perpetual squabbling, which is becoming tiresome.”
She said the draft seems “much the same” as the 2011 OCP with just a little tweaking.
“Is that what we spent the past two years, a great deal of staff time, volunteer time and tax money to create? It seems to be more of a ‘how to maintain the past’ prescription; perfect for everyone who wants no change and is in favour of the status quo.”
When the OCP review process kicked off near the end of 2016, Daman said Vancouver Island University professor Pam Shaw was brought in for a presentation during which, Daman said, Shaw told the audience “an OCP is a statement of objectives and policies to guide decisions on planning and land use management” and that it should be a “set of guidelines, not a rule book.”
Kevin Monahan, who was chair of the town’s OCP review committee, said the biggest problem with the draft OCP is the “lack of clarity” between things that are considered mandatory and what should be a guideline.
“The OCP should be a place where we state the principles and the policies that shape our town that we strongly believe,” Monahan said of the reference to three-storey building limits in the village neighbourhood, which was removed from requirements and instead included in the guidelines.
“The guideline isn’t really a rule.”
Monahan said it’s similar to the pirate’s code portrayed in the film Pirates of the Caribbean.
“(Captain Hector) Barbossa said, ‘Well, the pirate’s code isn’t really a rule, it’s more of a guideline,’ and proceeded to throw people overboard.”
The Town of Qualicum Beach council held a special council meeting Monday night after press deadline to discuss the draft OCP in depth.