EDITORIAL: Ambitious OCP

As the population in Qualicum Beach dips, the Town will have a tough time reaching its 12,000 build-out goal

The Town of Qualicum Beach has a lot of work to do if it is going to live up to the growth provisions of its Official Community Plan.

A build-out of 12,000 residents. It’s a number we thought would be shuffled to the back and forgotten with this new council, but Mayor Teunis Westbroek reintroduced it to the conversation in a story Tuesday about population figures.

B.C. Statistics reported the population of Qualicum Beach declined 0.5 per cent in 2014 to 8,500.

“I consider the population statistics for last year as a minor fluctuation in our long-term plan which will see a build out to approximately 12,000,” said the mayor.

A closer look at the numbers and some very conservative projections on deaths and births suggest the town will have to start aggressively attracting people, jobs and development if it is to reach the number quoted from the OCP by Westbroek.

Let’s say the long-term plan has an end game of

60 years. Two generations sounds long-term enough.

On average, according to B.C. Vital Statistics, more than twice the amount of people die each year than there are births in the District 69 area. That rate is higher in Qualicum Beach — there are suggestions it’s 6:1 — but let’s go with 2:1 to be conservative. Continuing that conservative trend, let’s say Qualicum Beach loses 50 people a year through the birth/deaths ratio.

The town currently has 8,500 people. It needs 3,500 to reach the build-out of 12,000. In 60 years, the town will lose 3,000 people using the conservative births/deaths ratio we’ve chosen.

That means Qualicum Beach needs to attract 6,500 people to reach build out in 60 years. Let’s get even more conservative, and simplify the math, and call it 6,000. Qualicum Beach needs to attract 100 new people to town every year for the next 60 years to reach the OCP’s build-out number.

For this four-year council term alone, that’s 400 people, likely somewhere around 200 homes.

Does anyone believe this council will be agreeable to the construction of 200 more living spaces in the next four years?

Extensive public consultation and adherence to the letter of the OCP were the buzzwords that swept this council into office. It will be interesting to see if this council will adhere to the OCP’s build-out number and, if so, how it plans to accomplish that goal.

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