Regional district chair scolds Qualicum Beach town council

Joe Stanhope says councillors need to do a better job reading the details of the Regional Growth Strategy

Joe Stanhope says Qualicum Beach town councillors don’t know what they are talking about.

The chair of the Regional District of Nanaimo was reacting to comments from Qualicum Beach town councillors who say they want to hear from the public and regional district officials before they align the town’s official community plan with the RDN’s Regional Growth Strategy.

What seemed like a mere formality, a housekeeping issue where municipal councils quickly pass a motion to amend their OCPs to conform with what the Regional District of Nanaimo calls its Regional Context Statement, has turned into a greater debate at the Qualicum Beach council table about growth in the area.

It also seems to be raising larger issues about whether the regional district follows its own growth strategies, especially in the context of developments happening on RDN-governed land between Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

“I’m not sure they (the RDN) fit into their own context,” Coun. Dave Willie, the town’s representative on the RDN board, said Monday night. “I’m not so sure I want to put my signature on it.”

Stanhope shot back from his French Creek home on Wednesday.

“They (Qualicum Beach town council) don’t know what they are talking about,” said Stanhope. “Those guys better read the Regional Growth Strategy. We’re conforming to it 100 per cent. We have to allow development where there is access to water and sewer (services).”

Stanhope suggested there may be a time when communities like Parksville and Qualicum Beach will grow to include the developments now between them.

“Eventually, these areas will be taken inside municipal boundaries,” said Stanhope. “Municipal boundaries can expand.”

Qualicum Beach town council was scheduled to give second reading Monday to a bylaw amending the town’s OCP to add language to conform to the RDN’s Regional Growth Strategy. Instead, council deferred second reading. Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer said it would be better to have more information before going to a public hearing on the OCP amendment.

“There’s no point in going in (to a public hearing) half-armed,” he said.

Willie stuck to his point about his view the RDN isn’t conforming to its own strategies.

“Our other partners aren’t making sense in our eyes,” he said.