Qualicum Beach residents discuss long-term vision for community wellness

Qualicum Beach residents discuss long-term vision for community wellness

Three more meetings on topic scheduled for Oct. 24 and 25

In a discussion that was focused around community wellness in Qualicum Beach, a group of nine people kept circling back to the topic of housing.

Tuesday’s (Oct. 17) meeting was one of the recent meetings in a series of weekly conversations for the Official Community Plan (OCP) review. The discussion topic was community wellness/tourism/managing our ecological assets, but the group focused on what its vision for long-term wellness in Qualicum Beach looked like.

Planning director Luke Sales facilitated the meeting, and asked the nine residents in the room what specific steps they would take to create their vision for long-term wellness.

“I’m almost using ‘wellness’ the way we use sustainability, because these are almost interchangeable concepts. If we’re going to be healthy in the long term, we’re going to be sustainable. If we’re sustainable, we’re going to be well,” Sales said.

Almost immediately, the group started discussing making housing more affordable so that people with lower incomes can continue to live in the community. Some suggested infill housing (carriage houses, laneway homes, etc.), while others suggested the town buy property and and make the housing non-market driven.

Kevin Monahan, chair of the OCP review steering committee, said he thinks the Town of Qualicum Beach is capable of generating money that can be used to buy property, which can then be used to create housing and facilities the town needs.

“We get people building buildings that the town needs — not that the developer needs to build to increase their profit,” Monahan said.

In his long-term vision, Monahan also said he would like to see a community that has more diversity, adding he would like to see “less of one thing and more multiple ages, multiple income levels.”

“That’s one of the things I’d like to see is a community that is, at least to some degree, more diverse than it is now,” Monahan said while recognizing Qualicum Beach has always been retirement community. “I’d like to see somewhat a reversal of that trend in 30 years, so that we’ve got families, we’ve got kids.”

Bruce Fleming-Smith also said his long-term vision for the town is “a community that’s managed its growth, but with more demographic diversity and cultural diversity.”

Dianne Jorgenson suggested looking at Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) land for new developments. The town’s Quality of Life survey did ask how the town should respond to ALR land removal applications.

RELATED: Qualicum Beach unveils survey results

Monahan said he has concerns about using ALR land for developments since there are population and agricultural sustainability pressures.

“I’ve seen a lot of alienation of ALR land in Richmond and Delta and Surrey — huge amounts of it — and I worry about similar sorts of things happening here,” Monahan said.

“If there was opportunities for swaps — because the ALR does allow swaps in an out — I wouldn’t say, ‘You would have to swap ALR land in the town for other land in Qualicum Beach.’ We live in a region, an oceanside region, and sometimes you have to look beyond the boundaries.”

The town is hosting two more weekly conversations on community wellness/tourism/managing our ecological assets on Tuesday, Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to noon and 6-8 p.m. at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre.

People are asked to register in advance.

To sign up for one of the weekly conversations, contact the town at 250-752-6921, email raugustyn@qualicumbeach.com or drop it off at town hall at 660 Primrose St.

There will also be a large public meeting on the the same topic at the civic centre Oct. 25 from 6-9. Pre-registration is not required.

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