After months of meetings, discussion, argument and even anger, the Town of Qualicum Beach this week gave final approval for the Official Community Plan.
The move, which passed unanimously Monday night, ended months of wrangling about what should and what should not be included in the town’s primary planning document for future development and growth.
Commenting on the long-awaited moment, Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek said he was pleased with the document, which he said will guide the town for the next several years.
“I think the combined effort, with all the input from our surveys and residents and organizations, council and staff has resulted in a revised OCP for Qualicum Beach that reflects our community values and aspirations for future generations,” he said. “This plan is forward-looking and provides options to enhance and preserve our neighbourhoods while retaining our small town atmosphere, provide safe public beach access, prevent urban sprawl, help protect the environment and provide the services we provide that are really the essence of our quality of life in Qualicum Beach.”
Westbroek stressed however that the work isn’t entirely finished, despite final adoption of the OCP.
“Many topics were raised, including the use of the bus garage property, village neighbourhood revitalization, the waterfront master plan and so on, where more in-depth studies and consultation with residents are needed,” he said.
One of the councillors who was most vehement in his opposition to the way the OCP process developed was Jack Wilson, who retained his skepticism, despite voting in favor of the finished product.
“I have a feeling of sadness because a lot of the big ideas were turned down at the conceptual stage,” he said. “There wasn’t even a specific proposal. This took so long, with so much public input and these ideas didn’t even pass first reading for discussion.”
Wilson conceded he must shoulder some of the blame, as he was away when the big ideas came up for discussion, but he said one of the other councillors could have seconded colleague Mary Brouilette’s motion.
“I can’t think of any specific issues I am for or against, but I am disappointed with the process that there wasn’t more thorough discussion at the end,” Wilson said. “There was no discussion about why these ideas were found unacceptable. Surely after all the process you owe the public an idea of why you don’t find it acceptable.”