Qualicum Beach is being urged to grow up.
Far from being an indicator of maturity — or is it? — the town is facing a crucial time in its history as it decides on how downtown development will proceed, especially in terms of height restrictions.
A story by outgoing editor Steven Heywood in today’s edition of the The News details a fiery debate from town council Monday night when a vote passed to eliminate restrictions on building heights and reduce DCCs.
One resident, speaking at a public hearing, called this “a big change” and went a step further: “Don’t be like Parksville.” Said another: “It’s time for Qualicum Beach to grow up.”
Drawing dividing lines and placing monikers like Gang of Three on a group of like-minded councillors may be fun for some, but it cheapens the importance of the debate. A town generally gets what it voted for. If politicians have voted in a fashion diametrically opposed to what they espoused during a campaign — imagine that! — they should pay the price in the next election.
All that aside, we don’t believe the vote Monday clears the way for skyscrapers in Qualicum Beach. We did not notice a convoy of cranes crawling up the Island Highway on Tuesday. (And for the resident who said “Don’t be like Parksville,” we can report there are no skyscraper-building cranes currently clogging the streets of that city).
Future developments will still have to pass through an onerous but necessary process. What the vote did do Monday was send a message that Qualicum Beach is not close-minded and won’t immediately dismiss out-of-the-box plans. Perhaps it is symbolic, but it’s important to get that out there — a town needs to be open for business if it is going to survive past the current generation.
Does that mean Qualicum Beach needs to discard its considerable character and charm? Absolutely not.
- editorial by John Harding