545 Nenzel Road Re-zoning Amendment
August 19, 2020
There are questions and concerns for Council to consider about the re-zoning of 545 Nenzel Road.
Mr. Sales responded to my question as to why this re-zoning amendment was not being processed as an OCP amendment. The answer wasn’t entirely clear and the reason for not processing the application as an OCP amendment was based on a number of various factors without explanation. Is Council also questioning why this rural 5 acre parcel outside the Urban Containment Boundary (UCB) is being processed simply as a re-zoning? Is Council planning on adjusting the UCB to accommodate the development? And if not, why not? The re-zoning for 850 Eaglecrest Drive is also a rural property outside the the UCB, but is being processed as an OCP amendment. Why are these two re-zoning applications going through different amendment processes?
Regarding this development’s OCP non-compliance and conflicting OCP policies, planning’s August 19, 2020 memorandum states, “As a result, policies specifying no growth in this area must be weighed against policies that support innovative approaches to housing.” Depending on one’s view point, objectives and values, deciding which of the aforesaid conflicting policies should take precedence is a subjective choice. Policies related to housing are simple and straight forward. If one considers housing a priority a simple and immediate solution is to build more houses. Policies around land use, growth and environmental stewardship are complex. The broader issues of growth and land use have meaningful consequences now and in the future that can be either beneficial or harmful depending on how they are managed and implemented. I disagree with planning that the conflicting OCP policies related to Nenzel Road proposal are of equal ‘weight’.
Another consideration that has broader and longer term consequences is the direction this development proposal is leading Qualicum Beach. The future of Qualicum Beach, the future of people living here and future generations are dependant on the decisions and choices made today by their elected representatives. It is vital that our Council looks at this proposal from an holistic perspective and not solely as increasing housing stock. Residents hope that Council takes into account land use OCP policies, the environment, location, and the long term consequences of land use changes. We are told that Nenzel development would result in 6 rental houses, but there is more to this development than that single element. If Council votes in favour of the development, will there be a covenant attached to the development permit to ensure that the new homes remain as rental properties in perpetuity? It is not uncommon for a development permit to be awarded, but the final development ends up quite different from original plans. The applicant told the APC that he prefers to stratify the development.
When development occurs on the Island it normally entails tree removal, 634 Rye Road is an example. In the past we accepted this as normal and moved on. However, we have reached a point in time both locally and globally that we notice the impacts to our lives, environment and natural assets like clean water when altering land. These observations have compelled government, scientists and academics to look critically at how we use land. Unfortunately, our decisions are often short sighted resulting in profound affects on climate, natural resources, wildlife and people’s health.
As part of the process and decisions around development of rural land Council must consider the cumulative impacts on Qualicum Beach’s natural assets.
Since Planning is attempting to avoid an OCP amendment and a change to the UCB for 545 Nenzel Road application, the memorandum to Council neglects to include OCP policy 6 Section 2.1.1 where it lists the supporting documentation for any UCB expansion. One of the six documents is an environmental impact assessment that identifies environmentally sensitive areas. The memorandum did acknowledge that some of the property was within Ecological Development Permit Area of Aquatic Habitat Greenway. Plannings response to this is that the development itself is outside the boundary of the DPA. Properties in this area are within Beach Creek watershed. Aside from Beach Creek there is abundant wildlife in the area around Nenzel Road. An environmental assessment must be a necessary requirement as part of the application process.
If Council chooses not to consider how much the community values the natural environment as expressed in the OCP and the community’s desire to protect rural land, and instead chooses to re-zone rural parcels for subdivision such as Nenzel Road and 850 Eaglecrest Drive, then we only need look at the urban sprawl of our neighbours in Parksville for a clear image of what Qualicum Beach would be like if we go down that road of up zoning rural parcels. The decision to go ahead with processing 850 Eaglecrest Drive proposal has already set a precedent with Council’s action to undertake a Comprehensive Plan for the Estate Residential Lands in the future. It is highly likely that Nenzel Road development will set a similar precedent if that is the intention of this Council.
Another disturbing aspect of Council’s support for re-zoning rural land outside the UCB is the contradiction to Council’s proclamation over a year ago, that OCP policies related to UCB and rural land would be respected and that residents need not worry about urban sprawl into rural areas. The public is entitled to know Council’s true intentions when it comes to rural land and the UCB.
How much has it cost the taxpayers to extend water main infrastructure to Nenzel Road for 545 Nenzel and Pheasant Glen?
In summary, in terms of transparency, collaborative community planning and public interest, I would expect Council to be eager to engage and include the public in these major decisions involving rezoning of rural land and diverging from the OCP before this application is moved further along in the process.
578 Maple Street