I am compelled to express my thoughts regarding the discussions and decisions reached during the subject meeting. Very important comments were touched on that did not necessarily reach a logical conclusion. Let’s begin with the Todsen development proposal. During the APC meeting, which resulted in a 3-2 favourable vote, one member commented that the proposal would look better than what currently exists. During your meeting, Mr. Sales was asked what is the state of the property. His answer was that the land had been essentially cleared about 5 years ago. Council never did ask who or why that woodland was cleared. My recollection was the land was cleared by the property owner and it was done in anticipation of some development. Council commented that infrastructure to accommodate the Cottages development was “oversized” to accommodate a future development on this property. All of this anticipation and accommodation was taken while this property was outside the Urban Containment Boundary and well before any development was presented to the public. Good planning or putting the cart before the horse?
Council pointed out the “iconic” meaning of the Estate Properties and cautioned that nothing should be done until the next OCP review. Council was reminded of a long standing bylaw protecting trees and vegetation on the Estate Properties, but that protection excludes what is now the Todsen property. No one has been able to offer a clear explanation why that is the case. An opinion was raised that a comprehensive plan for the future of the Estate Properties should be established, as a priority, in “fairness” to the developer. In conclusion, Council did not move to 2nd reading, but did ask for a lift analysis and traffic study prior to a public hearing - to be held by the proponent. What is council’s priority? Expediency for the developer or protection, and restoration of woodland?
How can Council appreciate the “iconic” value of the Estate Properties to our Town and next discuss proceeding with the Todsen proposal which is part of the Estate Properties and outside the UBC? I recall assurances made by several councillors during the RDN discussions in late 2018 that Qualicum Beach was certainly capable of making its own land use decisions without RDN involvement. It was said the Town would continue to utilize the UCB to prevent sprawl and limit servicing expectations. In early 2019, when asked directly what indentions existed to modify the UCB, two council members replied with “nothing” or “no changes are anticipated”. One and a half years later, after several changes to the UCB, after assurances during the RDN discussion, and adoption of the OCP, hear we are discussing this proposal. So our inexperienced council and our highly experienced staff have led us to this point - I call it “never, never-land
Next we have the Nenzel Road project. Several council members expressed their satisfaction with this development with the usual terms of rental inventory, land use, density etc. None of these attributes were mentioned in discussing the Todsen project, I suspect because that project does not satisfy any of these objectives. But I digress. The significance of this proposal is the request to subdivide the property to 1. protect two existing homes and property and 2. to facilitate financing using collateral of the subdivided land. While one councillor argued this request was not the same as what was previously granted to Pheasant Glen, it seems to me to be very similar, just bigger stakes. Mr. Sailland explained at some length how this is a common practice used by developers to help finance projects. One council member questioned if it was appropriate to consider proponent financing methods when discussing subdividing properties. Another councillor expressed concern that by agreeing to this request, a precedent becomes established that could lead to the erosion of and development of the 5 acre properties that comprise a meaningful portion of our Town.
This is a critical issue that I believe council does not value enough. Establishing precedents can have a very long lasting impact. That is why extreme caution should be taken to avoid what one may think is a one-off decision as an effort to accommodate that becomes an unintended future consequence. In my opinion, council does not seem to give this matter sufficient weight in their discussions.
A council member suggested a moratorium on 5G cell towers. I do not recall Telus ever stating what level of service the proposed tower will initially provide. I do appreciate the health concerns expressed by many and the proposed location options near the elementary school and church. I also understand that the cell service from Telus in Eaglecrest is not acceptable. It is both a safety and convenience issue. But the 19A, Village Way intersection is an important entrance to our Town. The thought of a 150 foot monopole standing near this Town entrance is hard to imagine.
Perhaps Telus would fund a new sign to replace the current town, signage. It could read, “Welcome to Qualicum Beach! Enjoy our beauty AND our radiation. Or perhaps Council should insist that Telus disguise or camouflage the tower. I have seen this done quite well in the U.S. - at a considerable cost to the service provider.
To summarize, I believe that individually you each touched on some very important points. Collectively, in my opinion, you missed the mark. The Todsen property is either in the Estate Properties or it is not. I believe it is within the Estate Properties, it is outside the Urban Containment Boundary and should be governed accordingly. The precedent raised in subdividing the Nenzel Road property should be reconsidered for both the precedent relative to other five acre properties and if it is appropriate for council to make land use decisions to accommodate developer financing needs and/or wants.
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