The Town of Qualicum Beach is planning to improve parking and public safety in the waterfront area along the West Island Highway 19A.
The town has asked residents to provide input on initiatives to be prioritized for development using the the $700,000 Tourism Dependent Communities Fund grant.
Council, at its committee of the whole on March 23, looked at the options presented by director of engineering and capital projects, Bob Weir. They are:
a. Parking Area 1 – (eight angle parking spaces and three parallel parking spaces; replacement parking for residential properties impacted by cycling/pedestrian improvements west of Bay Street)
b. Parking Area 2 – (16 parallel parking spaces, from Rotary Park to Bay Street)
c. Parking Area 3a – (six RV-sized spaces and seven parallel parking spaces, opposite the public waterfront west of Shores restaurant)
d. Parking Area 3b – (18 angled parking spaces and seven parallel parking spaces, opposite the public waterfront west of Shores restaurant)
e. Parking Area 4 East – (eastern half of the 48 parallel parking spaces east of the public washrooms, ending before the Sand Pebbles property)
f. Parking Area 4 West – (western half of the 48 parallel parking spaces east of the public washrooms, ending before the Sand Pebbles property)
Weir indicated the town’s original grant application was for $957,500 but was only awarded $700,000.
“With the reduced funding, along with significant increases in construction costs over the last couple of years, it dictates that not all the parking improvements can be constructed, and reductions in scope of the other amenities we had, at one point, considered need to be decided.”
Among the other amenities that staff recommended in the grant application that they need to put aside for now included new washrooms at the Seaside Nature Park, RV hookups, parking meters and servicing kiosks.
Weir said the town will be spared drawing grants to pay for traffic calming initiatives as these will be achieved from the completion of the Memorial Roundabout and two pedestrian crossings of Highway 19A.
Weir asked council to choose three options that they most favour and rank them in priority order.
Coun. Teunis Westbroek said it looks like options 1, 2, 3a and 3b are the preferred areas for development. However, he raised safety concerns on the suggested angle parking design.
“That means people have to back on… basically back on to the highway unless there’s enough of a shoulder where they don’t get into the line of traffic,” said Westbroek, who went on to ask staff if they see this as an issue.
Weir said the widening of the area and creation of the parking will also include a fairly healthy multi-use cycling and walking pathway that will be outside of the parking to keep vehicles from backing out onto oncoming traffic.
“With the creation of the extra lane, we can accommodate it quite safely,” said Weir.
Michele Jack, president of the Rotary Club of Qualicum Beach, said she favours more parking spaces as they plan lots of events booked this year after not having held any for two years due to COVID-19.
Mayor Brian Wiese favours food trucks and wanted to know if this is still a possibility.
Weir said if that is what council desires, they can add it to the project or the town finance it without have to tap into the grant funding.
Coun. Anne Skipsey is not in favour of angled parking as she has concerns about vehicles backing into the proposed bicycle and pedestrian lanes.
“It is not necessarily a good idea,” said Skipsey, who prefers option E as well as a new washroom at the Seaside Nature Park and electrical hookups for events.
Wiese suggested holding off making a decision as they were missing councillors Scott Harrison and Robert Filmer. As well, he wants to review it more as he is still not ready to choose which options to prioritize.
The issue will be discussed at the next regular council meeting on April 6. Weir plans to provide more details and additional information to help council make a decision.