A 3-2 majority of the town council - Dave Willie, Bill Luchtmeijer and Mary Brouilette - wants to change the RDN's Growth Containment Boundary and the town's Urban Containment Boundary so they match the town's boundary.
The impetus for the changes is a $12-million proposal from Pheasant Glen Golf Resort, now outside the growth boundaries, to build permanent housing, vacation cabins and various amenities.
However, as former federal regulatory consultant Kevin Monahan pointed out Friday, the boundary changes would also allow development in other areas.
To allow the growth at Pheasant Glen, the town council first has to ask the RDN to expand its Growth Containment Boundary.
The RDN can do that quickly for minor amendments but major amendments, Monahan said, trigger a process that may take two years.
That would push a decision on the Pheasant Glen proposal beyond the November municipal elections, which may result in a majority on council less favourable to expansion and development.
If the RDN agrees to go the minoramendment route and expands its growth boundary, the majority on council can then similarly expand the town's Urban Containment Boundary and approve the Pheasant Glen proposal before November.
"The Urban Containment Boundary is the one that keeps the character of the town the way it is," architect Bruce Fleming-Smith told Friday's meeting, organized by the Qualicum Beach Residents' Association and attended by more than 70 people.
There is "apprehension, concern, nervousness in the community," he said, "as to whether this really is a minor housekeeping matter."
QBRA president Dave Golson said, "There is a concern that the process is maybe being bypassed."
Monahan pointed out that a minor amendment has to arise from a "full review" of an Official Community Plan.
A full review isn't defined but the town's last OCP review took almost a year and Parksville's almost three.
For the current application, what is being cited as a full OCP review is a little-advertised information meeting held by the town March 4 and attended by 39 people.
Michael Jessen, representing the Arrowsmith Parks and Land-Use Council, said bluntly that there has been no OCP review.
Said Fleming-Smith: "This has not lived up to the spirit of a full OCP review."
As a result, Monahan said, the proposed boundary change doesn't meet the RDN's criteria for minor amendments.
Jessen said it's "a major change and doesn't qualify."
However, Luke Sales, the town's planning director, told the meeting that this is the first application to the RDN using the minor-amendment process and "I don't think it's entirely clear" whether the application qualifies.
He noted that last November Paul Thorkelsson, the RDN's chief administrative officer, told a public meeting that "the scope of an OCP review is up to the municipal council."
Monahan pointed out that the RDN's Regional Growth Strategy also lists amendments that "are not considered minor," including: ones that affect sensitive ecosystems and water sources; ones that include land in the Agricultural Land Reserve; and "those that require the provision of new community water and sewer systems outside the Growth Containment Boundary."
The boundary expansions and the Pheasant Glen proposal involve all of those, he said, disqualifying them as minor amendments.
"It's a law," he said. "It's a bylaw but it's still a law.
"If they go ahead with this, they'll be breaking their own law."
Resident Neil Horner urged people to write to the RDN opposing the boundary change as a minor amendment, and then "elect a new council."
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