EDITORIAL: Qualicum Beach council follies

What this council says about attracting families to the town is undermined by what it actually does

Qualicum Beach town council has taken a proposal that called for 60 housing units near a school and sliced it into something it feels better about, 12 units.

If councillors believe they were elected to keep development at bay, they are doing a good job.

However, councillors shouldn’t try to play both sides of the fence. If they want to limit development and give every person with a building/business/real estate idea a hard time, go right ahead. It seems some of the councillors believe they were elected to do just that.

Those same councillors cannot then talk about how they want to make Qualicum Beach more friendly for families. They cannot talk about how they want to see more affordable housing. At least they shouldn’t talk about those things with a straight face.

This most recent example centred around a parcel of land on Laburnum. Its development coincides with provisions of the much-talked-about official community plan and the used-as-a-ruse-by-some urban containment boundary.

It’s near a school, a reasonably new Qualicum Beach Elementary. That checks the family-friendly boxes.

The plan to build 60, or even 30 units on this parcel of land would most likely (how could it not?) produce homes that will cost less than the big-lot 12-unit proposal that council allowed to go to first reading after seriously grinding the landowners into submission.

Sixty or 30 units would have checked both the family-friendly and the affordable housing boxes, at least in a relative fashion.

No, this council apparently wants big houses on big lots. There seems to be no appetite for clustering relatively affordable homes near a school.

If council’s objection to this development was centred around the protection of wetlands in the area, that almost might make sense. A strong stance environmentally is at least a consistent message with principle. But that doesn’t seem to be the case for the majority of council regarding this proposal.

We cannot imagine a developer, whether it be single or multiple units, trying to do any kind of business with this town at this stage. The messages coming out of council chambers are conflicting at best. The voters are always correct, but we can’t imagine voters bargained for this type of erratic behaviour.

— Editorial by John Harding