Town is talking

Council in Qualicum Beach is walking a fine line with the community

What has been made clear in the recent developer survey and now by the public in Qualicum Beach over proposed changes to how the downtown will grow in the future, is politicians and staff need to be more flexible.

It’s a type of flexibility that needs to take the needs of both of those segments of the community into consideration. That flexibility, however, cannot go too far for any one special interest group, lest the character of the community is put at risk, or the town become stagnant and immovable.

That is the challenge facing this town council, a mix of the status quo and new councillors added in last November’s municipal election to ensure the development community is being listened to. As the politicians have been feeling out their new roles, the council is taking a more conciliatory tack and no one side has made any extreme swings in local policy.

Where they need to improve, as the development issues simmer, is in their communications with the community.

Faced with a danger of swinging too far on the side of development, council Monday night heard the voice of its other residents. That voice asked for more time, for more input and for clear thought on issues of building height, taxes, fees and what their downtown core will look like into the future.

Council will give people that time. If they don’t, these next two-and-a-half years will be all they have left at the council table.

They key word here is: compromise. Trying to make any one group happy will marginalize the others.

The town is already quite flexible in how it can react to requests from its citizens and business owners.

What the town needs, is clear, strong communication of its priorities, to ensure there’s a level of certainty for all parties — certainty that the town wants to grow and prosper, and certainty that any growth isn’t going to ruin the reasons why people moved to Qualicum Beach in the first place.

 

– editorial by Steven Heywood