I am saddened by the news of the closure of stores in Qualicum Beach, but unfortunately the projects mentioned in editor John Harding’s recent editorial will not help the problem.
Expensive housing like the Clarion and Pheasant Glen may bring in extra revenue for the town (once we have paid off the extra costs and “subsidies” involved, of course), but these projects will not necessarily produce more local shoppers. The Clarion could attract “investment” ownership, where the unit remains empty. And given the number of Qualicum Beach residents, even the less affluent, who spend several months away from home each year, why should we assume that the more wealthy will stay here year-round?
If we really want young families in Qualicum, we need housing that is suitable for them — the sort of smaller homes that are being built near Wembley Mall, for instance. Expensive condominiums or mini-estates are not what will help the town grow and thrive.
But even then, shopping locally is not a guarantee. A second grocery store might help attract more shoppers in general, but the malls and box stores in Nanaimo remain a constant draw. Part of the problem with an aging population is that the older one gets, the less one needs new clothing or household items, while younger retirees are more likely to be snowbirds who acquire those items down south.
There are certainly plenty of people in the area already who could shop locally but choose not to, for whatever reason; and until there is more visitor accommodation there will not be many tourists to add to the number of shoppers.
So the store closures are part of a sadly complex problem, but using them as an excuse for promoting these two particular development projects is inappropriate.