Residents voiced their fears and offered suggestions at a meeting Tuesday about the Qualicum Beach Waterfront Master Plan.
The committee of the whole meeting was moved to the civic centre after town staff said they received a large volume of feedback on the plan, comments director of planning Luke Sales said were both positive and negative. More than 150 people showed up to the civic centre on Tuesday night.
About a dozen of those in attendance got up to speak at the meeting, while others stayed in their seats and raised their voices in response to comments from fellow residents.
One resident, who the The NEWS was unable to identify, voiced his concern over a proposed walkway in front of his waterfront home.
“I’m very concerned over the safety of my family,” he said. “I think if there’s a walkway going that close to all of the homes, it’s just a recipe for vandalism. I mean, you could go as far as assault.”
An audience member then piped up, saying “Oh, come on, that’s a bit far-fetched.”
Louella Hollington said the town should focus on the budget for the plan.
“The lion’s share of the budget should go toward protecting the waterfront from climate change and erosion and then whatever is left can go toward any amenities,” Hollington said. “I would think that those (amenities) should be things like a walkway maybe, or improving the picnic areas.”
Hollington also said staff should take a hard look at other amenities, such as a pier.
“Those are high-cost items and I don’t know how much value you would get from something like that,” she said.
Pat Jacobson agreed with Hollington. Jacobson said her early impression that the plan was chiefly about combating climate change and sea level rise. She added that phase one of the plan was very effective in dealing with that.
However, Jacobson said that the focus on businesses and economic development should be uptown, and not at the waterfront.
“Let’s focus economic development plans uptown where the land is and where the vulnerability isn’t, like tourist accommodations, pubs, restaurants, housing, entertainment vendors and the like,” Jacobson said. “For me when it comes to the beach, less is more.”
Carol Tidler said she went to initial meetings related to the engineering report, which she said gave residents much to work with.
“The (draft) plan has made a lot of unnecessary division in the community with all kinds of specific ideas, and I don’t know where they came from,” said Tidler, who also said the town should take the engineering report, find somebody who can make policy out of it and include it within the Official Community Plan and “call it foreshore monitoring.”
“Get rid of that (master) plan idea, because all of a sudden we’re all seeing Las Vegas which isn’t what you meant to happen,” she said.
Sales said staff would use the comments made Tuesday in the preparation of a summary for town council to consider at its Oct. 3 regular meeting, which has also been moved to the civic centre (7 p.m.).