DECEMBER 20, 2021
- Housing plan deception by Town management and Council
- Benches removed from municipal cemetery
- Brassmas outdoor concert Tuesday noon Dec 21st downtown QB
- College Road housing a mirage
- Town plants 47 trees beside Heritage Forest?!
Housing plan deception by Town management and Council
We previously reported that the Town CAO and his Planning director apparently ignored Council’s direction in July 2021 to get on with a housing plan for QB — until reminded of that direction four months later at the November 17, 2021 Council meeting. For the subsequent November 24, 2021 Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting, Director of Planning Luke Sales submitted a report “to provide options and recommendations for a Housing Committee.”
Included in his report was the following: “The final draft of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Social Needs Assessment will be presented to the RDN Board at the November 23, 2021 agenda [sic]. RDN staff have already begun the first phase of a regional housing strategy. Phase 1 involves creating a discussion paper to facilitate dialogue on the proposed direction of the Regional Housing Strategy with internal and external stakeholders. Phase 2 will likely involve the creation of a regional Housing Task Force.”
Sales’ statement is both irrelevant and misleading, and a continuation of the foot-dragging where Town Administration, specifically Sailland, Sales, and now Svensen, have repeatedly abdicated responsibility for solving the Town’s urgent housing problems, deferring instead to the RDN.
For Town staff and some Council members to infer that the RDN has any clue about what specific housing is needed in Qualicum Beach, let alone any idea about how to make it happen, let alone any commitment to even try, is both ludicrous and deceitful.
For example, the 255-page Social Needs Assessment mentioned by Sales as some sort of excuse for his foot-dragging contains ZERO new knowledge that could inform ANY housing decision in Qualicum Beach. There is exactly one relevant data point in the report related to Qualicum Beach: In 2016 (that’s right, the data is five years old) the median pre-tax annual household income in 2016 for renters was $35,127. The Town probably already knew that.
Readers are encouraged to watch the Council and public discuss QB’s housing – starts at the 1:23:00 mark of the December 1, 2021 continuation of the COW meeting.
Mayor Brian Wiese amplified Sales’ disinformation about RDN’s planned leadership in housing by withholding a vital piece of public information — the RDN Board had recently indicated that they have NO appetite for planning housing across the Region. At the RDN Committee of the Whole meeting on November 23, 2021, attended by Wiese, the RDN Board, in reviewing its draft 2022 budget, flatly rejected the RDN staff recommendation to beef up its housing expertise and planning capacity. Interested readers can catch the fulsome half-hour RDN Board discussion about their role, if any, in regional housing, starting at the 1:01:00 mark of this RDN meeting.
Specifically, the RDN COW passed a motion “that the Housing Planner position be removed from the Regional District of Nanaimo budget.” Wiese supported this motion. But then neglected to bring back this important and very relevant news to QB Council and the public.
Meanwhile Councillor Scott Harrison thinks that the RDN’s Housing Needs Assessment from 2020 is “a good starting point.” Our synopsis of that report is contained in a previous article, Solving QB’s housing problem – whose job is it?
It is high time for the Town to stop dissembling, delaying and deceiving. — GS
Benches removed from municipal cemetery
The Town Municipal Cemetery is being stripped of benches. Readers report that there are only two benches left for people who visit the final resting place of their loved ones.
There are now no benches located near many of the grave sites or columbaria that house cremated remains. All that remains are the cement foundations of previously installed benches.
Is the Town planning to destroy the cemetery as part of their plans to clear-cut several acres of the mature native forest in the Qualicum Beach Community Park?
We can look to another community on the other coast of Canada for a different perspective. Respectful and considerate of their 20,000 residents, the city of Riverview, New Brunswick installed more benches at the request of their residents.
Reader Catherine writes, “I thought you might be interested in this article on CBC.ca that shows how the people of Riverview, NB enjoy “Happy to Chat” benches which allow people to socially distance, spark conversations and make new friends. What a great idea!”
Brassmas outdoor concert Tuesday, December 21 at NOON downtown QB
Join the Brass Quintet from Kwalikum Secondary School for an outdoor Christmas concert on the plaza at the foot of West Second Avenue and Memorial Avenue next to the CIBC in Qualicum Beach. Participation encouraged!
College Road housing a mirage
Earlier this year, the Town approved the planned construction of three additional condo apartment buildings on the College Inn grounds at 431 College Road. As many QB residents predicted, with development permit in hand, the owner of the property, Paul Jahn (Monaco Holdings), has listed the property for sale rather than proceed with the proposed construction.
Just another land play, with no resulting housing in sight. The Town’s development permit approval added significantly to the value of the undeveloped property, which is now listed at $6,600,000 (see Ad below).
That’s a nice $4 million lift to the pre-permit BC Assessment value of $2,752,000 (July 1, 2020).
As we reported back in January, 2021, this whole project does not exactly have social license from the neighbourhood. See Qualicum Heights Homeowners Group voices concerns with College Inn development plan.
Good-bye Mr. Jahn. Next…
Town plants 47 trees beside Heritage Forest?!
Another tip from a reader led us to an astounding sight. Last week, we counted at least forty-seven trees, averaging five to six feet (2 metres) in height, that have been newly planted by the Town — right next to the east boundary of the Heritage Forest.
That doesn’t include the native shrubs, like Oregon grape, that the Town has also planted alongside these trees (a few feet from the Oregon grape growing in the Heritage Forest).
Take a walk or a drive along Hemsworth, between Chester and Dogwood to see this latest Town folly.
Talk about bringing coals to Newcastle, this bizarre “landscaping” of a splendid natural forest that wise citizens had the foresight to protect several decades ago.
Does the Town believe that planting garden-variety nursery stock next to a mature native forest will, in any way, improve or benefit anything? Does the Town management think this will be an equivalent replacement for clear-cutting the mature native forest in the Qualicum Beach Community Park? Are these newly-planted trees going to be counted as the Town’s contribution to Prime Minister Trudeau’s tree-planting goal? Is this silly, wasteful effort going to result in another greenwashing nomination for the Town of Qualicum Beach? Or, just make mowing of the roadside grass more complicated and time-consuming?
If the Town has excess funds and landscaping stock, and staff have time on their hands, surely there are other locations that could benefit from a sprucing up.
Perhaps it is intended to just be a distraction so that QB residents don’t notice other more serious and costly “misadventures” by the Town. — LS