Having been out of town for several days, I returned to Qualicum to be pleasantly surprised by the changes on the former school bus site. Gone are the walls of cedars blocking the view of Mount Arrowsmith and the school playing fields. Now we have welcome southern orientation, expansive views, and openness.
We have a great sense of public space at one of the the most important intersections in the town. As an architect and planner, I see great potential for development — but not the kind of development that some of us have perhaps been considering.
Hopefully we can resist the temptation to develop this property for commercial or even cultural facilities. The real value of this site is that, in obtaining it, we now have a central, multipurpose town square with adjacent green fields and a splendid prospect.
The buildings facing this space, and The Old School House, have a new outlook and a new sense of place. We can landscape the site, introducing paving and other urban features that integrate pedestrian and traffic movement, parking, outdoor seating and intermittent street activities like markets, street fairs and dances. This would involve effective, imaginative urban design, not costly facilities development. Every successful town has a meaningful, multipurpose public open space at its center.