Qualicum won’t pay

Council decides they will no longer pay the Island Corridor Foundation for rail crossings in town until rail service re-started

Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek.

Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek.

Without any open discussion or even the result of the votes, Qualicum Beach town council announced Monday night they had passed three motions in camera related to the Island Corridor Foundation and a possible future use of the old train station.

Council directed the town’s cultural development and communications consultant and staff to proceed with establishing the proposed Qualicum Beach Digital Arts Studio — a co-working space for digital arts industry talent and mobile professionals — at the train station on a one-year trial basis.

School District 69 and the town were in discussions about the arts studio possibly going in a portion of Kwalicum Senior Secondary.

“This (digital arts) industry is an industry that moves quickly,” school district Acting Superintendent Rollie Koop said Wednesday. “If the town has found an option that they can get to more expeditiously, we have to respect that. The door is always open to continue the discussions.”

The local school board had discussions in the spring about pursuing a possible partnership with the town on the plan, but as Koop and others have said, there are many challenges when mixing private ventures into school-district-owned property that is active with students.

In response to a request from The NEWS, the town’s cultural consultant, Patricia Hunstman, explained how the town arrived at the train station site, as opposed to KSS. “The KSS space is still a longer-term possibility and we’ll continue to keep partners such as the school board informed of our progress,” Huntsman wrote in an e-mail.

“For now, the idea is to simply get the space up and running, and take it from there. The Digital Arts Studio will provide a much-needed meeting and work space for the central and north Island’s distributed digital workforce to collaborate and grow technology from idea to market. It will provide the setting for a launch pad for businesses to spring from.”

Further to that first motion about the digital arts studio, town council passed another that authorizes staff to proceed with improvements to the train station space, including minor renovations to connect adjoining rooms within the facility. Staff has also been instructed to expedite the negotiations with Island Corridor Foundation with respect to acquiring a long-term lease for the train station.

As staff pursues that long-term lease, they will be doing so with another set of directions from council: the discontinuance of payment to the ICF  for the monthly charges for the rail crossings within town boundaries “until full rail services are restored by Southern Railway.”

There was no discussion by council about these motions on Monday night. They were simply read into the public record by Corporate Administrator Trudy Coates.