Qualicum Beach town council agrees more time is needed before making a decision about the future of the old ‘bus garage’ property.
In mid-January, it was announced the town had tentatively agreed to an offer from Naked Naturals Whole Foods Ltd., to purchase the town-owned land, at the intersection of Fern Road and Memorial Avenue, at a cost of $2.5 million.
After a subsequent announcement that members of the public in Qualicum Beach had until the end of January to give feedback on the potential land sale of the old bus garage and Qualicum Commons property, the town indicated it would extend the consultation period.
The issue was brought up at the regular council meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 5.
Since the initial call for public feedback, the town received 378 emails about the sale, which they say shows its importance to the community.
Coun. Adam Walker brought up a new notice of motion at the council meeting on Feb. 5 that read: “THAT Council direct staff to record all votes in all in-camera meetings; AND FURTHER THAT Council direct staff to raise and release all motions and vote records related to risen in-camera information, unless that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality.”
The motion was ultimately deferred to a later date when the council is set to talk about their procedure bylaw.
“It was brought to my attention that there was three members of council that voted against the land sale for the Naked Naturals property,” he said. “I find it very dishearting that there are members of council who will say that they voted in a different way than they actually did in-camera, and so that’s why I made this motion.”
Mayor Brian Wiese responded, and said, “I’m pretty sure you’re referring to me.”
Wiese said he voted against Naked Naturals going into Second Avenue, and that he agrees with the motion. In a later interview, Wiese explained that there were a few different votes for Naked Naturals, and that “the original deal was dead, Naked Naturals on the Second Avenue site was dead, so it sort of allows you to speak more freely because that one wasn’t on the table anymore.”
“So when Coun. Walker heard that I’d voted one way and said another, I was referring to the original vote on Second Avenue, not the bus garage site,” he said. “We need to move forward, where are we going, we need to get all the information on the table. What is really, really important is that we get the VIU report back… we take that for public consultation, at that point in time we’re better able to make the right decisions moving forward.”
Council will be able to further discuss the motion when it’s brought back to the table at a later date.
Walker also said he thought it would be appropriate for Wiese to respond to the Qualicum Beach Cinema Society, who expressed concern about the sale in a letter to council on Jan. 20. Walker said Wiese should be in contact with them about upcoming Vancouver Island University sessions, something Mayor Wiese agreed to.
Part of the letter from the society read: “An expanded Naked Naturals store and cafe, alongside a multi-use cinema and green space, might be a wonderful combination for Qualicum Beach, but it does not appear that the proposed sale provides for such a possibility.”
In a press release on Jan. 27, the town said they will consider any competing offers for land. They also confirmed that regardless of the sale, the town will retain 62 per cent of the land at the location, with a community parking lot being part of the final plan in some capacity.