A petition has been launched by Qualicum Nature Preservation Society against the Town of Qualicum Beach’s plan to cut down trees at the proposed location for a permanent public works yard.
The town is relocating its public works yard to an area on Jones Road and Rupert Road in the community park that has two acres of trees.
The society is protesting the town’s plan and since initiating the petition, it had more than 1,500 signatures Tuesday evening.
“We were thrilled to discover the overwhelming support this morning,” said QNPS president Ezra Morse. “It’s clear to everyone that it is absolutely unacceptable to sacrifice part of our community park with zero public consultation. After all, this forest is a fundamental part of this village and the people who live here.”
The town plans to build a permanent public works yard to merge parks and public works crews in one location.
CAO Daniel Sailland, at the committee of the whole meeting held on April 21, confirmed trees will be cut, and stated “it’s unfortunate.” But he also indicated the town is growing and there is a need for increasing its efficiencies.
The preferred site will also be the temporary location of the the town’s proposed 15 dry recovery housing units for people facing homelessness. The town has applied for $1.25 million to the UBCM Strengthening Communities Services Program to fund the project that has been endorsed by City of Parksville and the Regional District of Nanaimo Electoral Areas E (Nanoose Bay), F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington, Whiskey Creek, Meadowood), G (French Creek, San Pareil, Little Qualicum, Englishman River), and H (Bowser, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay).
“It is also unacceptable for the province to be funding the deforestation of this treasured community asset when Canada and the province are both strengthening our commitment to combatting climate change,” Morse said.
Director of engineering and capital projects Bob Weir said this is a project the town will need to establish down the road.
“One of the problems we have right now with our crews is, we do not have buildings, lunch rooms and areas that are big enough to safely house them for social distancing,” he said. “So we’ve got them split up and spread out all over town in various buildings. This is an attempt to give them a proper, efficient facility in one location that we can sort of deploy them out of.”
The society claims the town is moving the yards, allowing a lease of the current location to a private company that plans to establish a pub at a subsidized rent. The society also pointed out the town failed to garner the consent of the community.
The town has indicated that because the tight timelines to apply for the Strengthening Communities’ Services Program grant, it didn’t have the chance to conduct a community dialogue. It now plans to host a virtual information session through a committee of the whole meeting, set for April 29 at 4 p.m.
Residents and interested stakeholders are invited to register and attend the virtual information session to learn more about the project and to ask specific questions. Information shared at the meeting will further help the town with project details.