Denyse Widdifield says she isn’t surprised by the results of a recent survey that suggests 67 per cent of Qualicum Beach residents agree a proposed development at Pheasant Glen Golf Resort is good for the community.
Widdifield said she has been knocking on a lot of doors and talking to a lot of people since she announced last month she is running for mayor.
“I’m not surprised by the results of the survey because I believe most people in Qualicum Beach, especially this silent majority we keep hearing about, really can see that we are in dire need of creating a good economic base that will bring families and tourism back to Qualicum Beach,” said Widdifield, suggesting the town has seen the loss of just under 200 hotel rooms in the last 20 years. “Whether it’s Pheasant Glen or any other development, we need this type of proposal on the table and we need to look at it.”
Mayor Teunis Westbroek, the only other declared candidate for the Nov. 15 mayoral race in Qualicum Beach, called it a “bogus survey with loaded questions.”
“I think its very unfortunate they (the people who paid for the survey) didn’t own up to it when we had a council meeting on Aug. 11,” said Westbroek. “They were in the gallery. That would have avoided a lot of controversy.”
Westbroek also said Pheasant Glen needs to present more detail on its proposal to the town.
“I understand that they want to test the waters,” said the mayor. “No one is saying we don’t want it. We are saying show us the complete application and go through the process.”
The survey was commissioned by the Dutton family, which owns Pheasant Glen. They want to build 100 vacation homes, 60 resort cabins, a clubhouse and pavilion. The survey was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner from Aug. 6-10 and gathered 303 responses, according to a news release issued by Craig Dutton on Thursday. Dutton said the survey is accurate to within 5.7 percentage points, plus or minus, 19 times out of 20.
“We did this survey because we wanted to know what the real people, the average Qualicum Beach resident, thinks of our proposal to build residential and resort housing and other amenities at Pheasant Glen” Dutton said in the news release. “The real people are telling us, and any one else who really listens, that they want a real plan to grow to the Official Community Plan population of 12,000 with controlled growth and economic activity. We agree, our plan is to build fewer than 200 homes and resort cabins over the next three-seven years.”
The survey questions did not begin and end with the Pheasant Glen proposal. Here are some other results, as supplied in the news release by Dutton.
• 81 per cent agree Qualicum Beach needs to attract more families to maintain a vibrant community.
• 79 per cent agree that Qualicum Beach needs controlled growth to maintain its quality of life and service.
• 73 per cent agree that Qualicum Beach needs a real plan to reach its OCP (Official Community Plan) size of 12,000 over the next 10-15 years.
• 71 per cent say: “Addressing community priorities in a timely manner with flexibility in planning during community changes” is more important to them while 25 per cent say “A lengthy public process with extensive public input is more important.”
• 61 per cent believe Qualicum Beach council listens too much to the complainers and not enough to the average resident.
• 60 per cent believe amendments to the Official Community Plan should take less than 12 months while 34 per cent believe it should take as long as it takes.
On its website, New York City-based Greenberg Quinlan Rosner says it is “one of the world’s premier research and strategic consulting firms. We specialize in political polling and campaign strategy, helping political candidates, parties, advocacy groups, and ballot initiatives succeed across the United States and around the globe.”
According to its website, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner’s client list has included Microsoft, Boeing, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Cubs. The company says it employs nearly 70 research professionals and has offices in Washington, D.C., New York, N.Y., Buenos Aires, Argentina and London, England.