After nearly 14 hours of discussion, Qualicum Beach’s Official Community Plan policy review discussions have wrapped up.
The committee of the whole held its fifth meeting on the OCP policy review on Thursday. Since the first policy review meeting in December, 2017, the committee of the whole has taken nearly 14 hours to discuss the more than 70 recommendations.
On Thursday, two of the final three recommendations discussed the OCP process, addressing whether or not the six-year OCP update cycle should be more flexible and whether the 2018 OCP should include guidelines for an OCP review.
Planning director Luke Sales said staff heard two views from the community on the OCP process: that it is long and intense with some suggesting shortening the time; while others felt that the town should go further with its OCP review process.
The committee voted the 2016-2018 OCP review and the town’s Quality of Life survey be used as examples in the OCP review process in conjunction with the International Association of Public Participation guidelines.
Coun. Neil Horner said the OCP review should continue to happen every six years.
“I think that we spend an awful lot of time on the OCP. We’re tired, the community’s tired. If you do it too much, you’re just going to… have a degradation in the quality of input,” Horner said.
The committee also approved that the OCP review process remain on a six-year schedule.
After the committee of the whole meeting, Mayor Teunis Westbroek said this is the first time council and staff has held discussions this lengthy. When OCP review discussions began in 2016, the review was expected to wrap up in 2017.
Westbroek said he expects the OCP to be finished before the summer, and definitely before the civic election this October.
Westbroek said for this OCP review council and staff is taking a year longer than in previous years to allow for more public discussion. Previously, Westbroek said, when councils had three-year terms, the OCP review would wrap up in May the same year as the election.
“We never did this format before where we had the discussions and have council discussions with staff and then the gallery can speak to any recommendation or all the recommendations all the time,” Westbroek said. “I think that really opened the door for people to come and talk to us, express their views on specific items, and I really value that.”
Sales said the draft OCP will be brought to the regular council meeting on March 19 for first reading. From there, the draft will go through second reading, then a public hearing and third reading before final adoption.