Here are some statistics and analysis to consider as we prepare to elect a council that will shape our town’s future for the next decade and beyond.
We do not have a real plan for the future growth of Qualicum Beach. We do not have maps and time frames that speak to how we will create new housing, affordable housing, or any other housing options. We have a document optimistically called the “Official Community Plan” (OCP) with generally restrictive language that is usually interpreted to prevent development. I believe this was put in place in 2009-10 by the planning department and sitting politicians of the day to suit their agenda and their views. We have no plan at all as to how we achieve our controlled growth target population.
Here are some facts. According to B.C. Assessment, Qualicum Beach has 182 vacant lots and 46 vacant acreages (the latter mostly in the ALR) for a total of 228 vacant properties. At two persons per household, that will increase the population by 456 people. If we build on every vacant lot, plus 100 lots at Pheasant Glen, plus the Clarion condo’s 50, we will only increase the population by 750-800 people.
We have little or no zoned available land for the future growth of Qualicum Beach. This is why we fight over every inch of land in town. We have no plan for growth. Over the last five years, according to the last census, we had a population increase of 190 people. That equates to 19 new households per year. The big question when deaths in the community out number new households is this: why are we even arguing about growth? Nineteen new families a year is clearly not enough to keep our schools open.
The agreed optimal population in Qualicum Beach is 12,000 (according to our current OCP). We now have 8,600 residents. This leaves us 3,400 new bodies or 1,500-1,700 new households to build out. At our present pace of growth, it will take 90 years to reach build-out. To reach this build-out, at five new housing units per acre (which is our current single family subdivision density), we would need over 300 acres of zoned land to meet build out requirement? Where is the land? Where is the plan?
The bottom line is we don’t have a plan. We have never had a chance to have the discussion. In my view, recent OCPs were manipulated by the sitting politicians of the day while the public input was given lip service, resulting in an OCP with no plan other than to restrict or stop growth at every turn.
We need a frank and open discussion about our future. What is real and what is not. Then we need a land plan showing where we are going to have future growth to meet our maximum build out.
The plan must be realistic both sustainable and economically viable. In 2010 the council of the day spent more than $100,000 dollars having consultants tell us what they had already decided and look where that got us. Surely we can do better.
If we don’t we will be closing more schools and businesses.
Dave BryanQualicum Beach