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EDITORIAL: OCPs important but need to be flexible

Some people like to cherry-pick their favourite parts of the plans

Official Community Plans are important documents for municipalities, of that there's no doubt.

However, there are times when an idea, a proposal, presents itself that could really benefit a community. Surely with that in mind, provincial legislation allows for changes to the OCP between major reviews.

What's more, a development that falls outside the zoning set in an OCP might fulfill other portions of the OCP for density, growth, increased park space, etc.

It's sheer madness to be married to a big-picture document that's reviewed every five-10 years and cannot be flexible with the economic times or the nature of unforseen possibilities. What if someone in their dying days decided to give a municipality all kinds of land, or build a pool, or some other great gift? Would a municipality turn away that gift because it didn't fit within the current land-use provisions of an OCP?

While the continuous, tiring, political struggles in Qualicum Beach have brought this to the forefront, this debate is not really about one community. Mayor Chris Burger of Parksville has drank the OCP Kool-Aid too. You would have thought the Queen was visiting when he spoke of his city's recent OCP review.

What's happening in Qualicum Beach is some serious cherry picking of the OCP. The people who want no development hide behind their chosen portions of the OCP. They don't want people to pay attention to the parts of the OCP that say Qualicum Beach's future health depends on growth to about 12,000 people. Mayor Teunis Westbroek told the Vancouver Province this week "we think we will grow to about 12,000 within our boundaries."

We have a difficult time understanding how that's going to happen. We would love to hear how some groups reconcile the growth numbers in the OCP with the reality on the ground. And it's getting a tad ridiculous listening to the mayor and town staff talk about attracting more young families to Qualicum Beach, while they are seemingly closed to ideas about housing them.

In our view, Qualicum Beach should retain the downtown village's charm and continue developing its waterfront master plan. Outside of those areas, the town needs to be more open to development that can employ and house the young families it says it wants to attract.

— Editorial by John Harding

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