Qualicum Beach wants to be involved in the conversation that other government agencies are having about a private property that hugs the bank of the Little Qualicum River.
At a town council meeting Monday night, Coun. Dave Willie asked town staff whether the town has been in the loop as to what was taking place (the removal of trees and vegetation) at 1042 Centre Crescent, a property that is within the Regional District of Nanaimo and borders Qualicum Beach.
“A lot of neighbours have been calling me and director (Joe) Stanhope has been down there for a number of meetings,” said Willie. “DFO has been down there with the clearing right up to the river itself — have we been involved at all?”
The town’s director of engineering, Bob Weir, said the town had only seen some e-mail circulating.
Willie asked if the work could potentially cause any concerns with the town’s wells, which are located across the river, or to the river itself.
Weir said without inspecting he couldn’t be sure, but that it wasn’t a big concern.
“We’re fairly well protected, we don’t have any great fears, but certainly it’s our due diligence to have a look at what’s going on on our boundaries and especially affecting important bodies of water to us, so we will be looking into it.”
A motion brought forward by Willie passed unanimously to write letters to the appropriate authorities expressing the town’s concerns and requesting to be involved in future conversations around the issue.
Jeremy Holm, current planning manager at the Regional District of Nanaimo, said there are a number of government agencies currently looking at the site, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada as well as Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (the provincial agency that look after riparian area regulations).
The agencies are still in the investigative stages regarding the vegetation removal near the river, Holm said, and the RDN will coordinate with the others authorities to determine what development permit areas apply and what remedial measures, if any, are required.
Faye Smith with the Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers Society said she and others have concerns about the activity happening at the site. She said trees and shrubs holding the bank back and protecting the water from erosion have all been removed, except for a few alder trees.
She said changes to the Fisheries Act have made it confusing as to what is allowed and isn’t with regard to removal of vegetation in riparian areas.
“We’d hate to see a precedent set, now that regulations have changed, people could (potentially) just do whatever they want. The Little Qualicum River is a famous salmon river — we can’t let it be put at risk.”
She said she hopes massive replanting will take place at the site.
Attempts to reach the developer by press time were unsuccessful.
Smith also mentioned that the Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board (SEHAB) from North Vancouver will be holding an information meeting regrading last year’s changes to the Fisheries Act at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre on Friday, May 30 at 7 p.m. The public is welcome. RSVP to info@SEHAB.org.
In other news from council’s meeting Monday night:
• Five prequalified contractors have been selected to put forward a bid for the construction of the new fire hall. The plan is to have a closing date for the tenders in early June, and a report to council could happen as early as June 23, said Luke Sales, director of planning.
• The QF Qualicum Beach Triathlon is taking place June 22 and registration is almost full, with nearly 400 participants signed up. For more information on this all ages event visit www.qualicumbeachtriathlon.com.