Development story overlooks environment

I offer the following comments on Qualicum Beach council’s recent advancement of the Laburnum development proposal.

Your article (The NEWS, March 23) on this project did the public a disservice by omitting mention of the environmental issues relating to this project. The property includes a significant area of designated wetland, and wetland ecological values and wetland buffers have been central to why this project has had such a complicated history.

Unremarked in your article is the fact that at Qualicum’s most recent APC meeting the Laburnum proposal was reviewed and the committee recommended unanimously against approval of the project — however, the APC plays only an ‘advisory’ role.

Our town’s current OCP identifies wetland buffers and land use limits that apply to this property with the intent that much of Qualicum’s surrounds remain in a state of low-density development, which preserves conservation and environmental values.

The facts are that the Laburnum applicant (and previous applicants) never undertook a proper environmental assessment of wetland values in relation to the proposal — instead the consultant’s reports addressed RAR guidelines. RAR guidelines are specifically focused on fish habitat and in many cases can be insufficient in regards wetland ecosystems.

The Mayor and council know this, but instead put the focus on housing. An unfortunate fact is that the proposal that council gave second reading falls far short of the housing contained in a number of the previous proposals for the property.

U. of T. housing professor David Hulchanski, in a recent Globe &Mail article on the housing market and housing supply states: “The supply argument is a lobby by those who want to sell land and or build in protected areas.”

The facts appear to show that this is what was at play with Mayor Westbroek and council’s latest decision.

Bruce Fleming-Smith

Qualicum Beach