It’s difficult to understand how the town of Qualicum Beach operates at the best of times.
For years the place was run like a country store. There are many examples of this, but having someone live on town-owned land (the Heritage Forest) for years without a lease or contract was a beauty and a potential dream-come-true for lawyers and insurance companies.
The council from 2011-14 did some things to help drag the town into the 21st century, install some order and process and generally set the stage for a more professional operation.
However, that council must have gone too far with some things. The electorate changed the balance of power in 2104, tossing out the leading force behind the push for professionalism, proper process and development, Dave Willie, and one of the most active community volunteers the town has ever had, Mary Brouilette.
Fair enough. The electorate is always right.
Some said the election of this new council would mean the end of any kind of development in Qualicum Beach that wasn’t institutional or subsidized. Some may even point to the inability of the Aldermuir cohousing project to go forward as an example of the return to the gates-closed mentality.
That would be a mistake. This council was elected on a promise to adhere to the Official Community Plan, no matter how flawed the process was for the development of that plan and regardless of the largely-ignored growth provisions (12,000 people as a full build-out) in the plan.
So, what made the Aldermuir people believe they had any chance to get this to the council table, let alone get re-zoning passed? By extension, what makes any developer believe they will get any re-zoning done in Qualicum Beach?
If the plot of land one intends to develop is zoned for that purpose in the OCP, then perhaps the developer has a chance. Re-zoning for housing or anything that might actually turn a profit for the developer while creating jobs and bringing some demographic diversity to Qualicum Beach? Forget it.
The people spoke in November of last year. This council won’t do much of anything substantial in terms of new development, but that’s what the people wanted.
— Editorial by John Harding