Concept plans for the east village area in Qualicum Beach drew enthusiasm from council and members of the gallery at a committee of the whole meeting last Wednesday.
CAO Daniel Sailland previously gave verbal presentation for the plans at the April 16 meeting. While the plans for the east village are still a concept, Sailland gave an idea of what the area could be used for.
The east village area, Sailland said, could include town homes, apartment-style rentals, flex work space, commercial space, a brew pub and a public area. He said another element would be to extend Berwick Road to have a proper pedestrian cross to connect the east village area with Veterans Way.
He said the concept has been in discussion for some time, and was put together with information from the Official Community Plan process. Staff, Sailland said, has been working in collaboration with property owners (the town is one of three property owners) on how to enhance and reimagine the area as a cohesive project.
The east village area is around the intersection of Second Avenue E. and Fir Street. Sailland said that area of town is “not engaged” and there is “no incentive to walk into the area.”
After receiving feedback, Sailland said, a design consultant was hired and images were created on how to create a pedestrian friendly area, adding that on the west side of Memorial Avenue is “a small town that everyone raves about.” He said the plan is to expand on that small town feeling, not detract from it.
Sailland said there is a limited window of time to work with the property owners and make a decision with investors. He said staff would like to be able to bring back an agreement with property owners and investors to this council and not the next.
While all of council voiced their excitement for the idea, councillors Barry Avis and Anne Skipsey were wary of moving forward with a project now.
Skipsey referenced the housing task force, wondering if this concept was “putting the cart before the horse” because the task force is needed to figure out what is needed in the community. Avis said it’s “important to ponder and think things through.” He said if the project is that good, then an investor should be willing to wait.
Mayor Teunis Westbroek said plans for the east village area are not new and it’s time to move forward.
“This has been a sore spot for many years. To now have local participation from owners and for the town to be a part of that is exciting.”
He said he doesn’t think there should be more meetings or surveys to proceed with the east village project.
“I think we would do the town a disservice if we said, ‘Let’s wait for the task force, maybe for the next council and let them deal with that,’” Westbroek said.
About seven people got up to speak from the gallery and all voiced their enthusiasm for the project. Dave Coulson asked if developers could provide a 3D model of the concept, while Bruce Fleming-Smith said it “will be a reigning success because it has the markings of something really, truly to transform the town quite significantly.”
Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer made the motion to direct staff to carry on with a developed concept and bring forward a little bit more substance to the project as well as a deal with owners.
The committee of the whole passed the motion.