Letters: proposed Todsen subdivision — errors and miscommunications

We received this letter in response to our previous articles about the Todsen proposal to subdivide Estate Properties land, and about an inaccurate statement in a letter from the Todsens in the PQB News.

Kevin Monahan writes:

I just read the August 8, 2020 Second Opinion QB article on the Todsen subdivision. You are correct in stating that the staff recommendation was not  “for future development, exclusive of the proposed subdivision”. In fact, in the agenda for the July 15 meeting, the staff comment specifically states (page 158) “As this application does not align with key OCP policies regarding residential development and land use, staff cannot support this application in the absence of a comprehensive planning process.”

Unfortunately, there has been a string of misperceptions and poor communications that have created confusion on the subject. For instance, the PQB News article titled “Greenbelt Planning” (July 22, 2020) discusses a “150-square-acre piece of land in the south end of town.” The article is actually referring to the Estate Properties, which are located in the north end of Qualicum Beach. This is just one of many mistakes in the PQB News article.

But poor communications practice is not limited to the PQB News. Council also has been confused over the issue.

In the agenda to the July 15 Council meeting, Town planning staff specifically recommended (page 149)…

“That a Comprehensive Land Use Plan be undertaken to provide direction for future developments within the Estate Residential lands that would address and balance the importance of the forest, green way features, ecological importance of Milner Gardens and Vancouver Island University lands with the appropriate urban densification and public recreational amenities.”

This recommendation makes no exception for the Todsen property. It is clear that planning staff did not intend for it to do so.

Councillor Westbroek made a motion to defer a development plan for the estate residential properties to the next OCP review (2:16 of the video). The mayor then asked, for clarity, if he intended that to include the Todsen property, to which Councillor Westbroek answered that it would not. However, the motion recorded in the minutes contains the exact same wording that was provided by planning staff. The only addition is wording incorporating the Comprehensive Land Use Plan into the next OCP review. The motion does not make any exception for the Todsen property—which is definitively a part of the Estate Residential lands. Council assumes that because it was discussed prior to voting on the motion, that this motion would not include the Todsen property. However, they are mistaken.

The motion recorded in the minutes refers to the “Estate Residential” lands as set out in the OCP, and yet it makes no mention of an exception for the Todsen’s property. In fact, the motion was read back to council, and no one chose to mention an exclusion for the Todsen property. The minutes are the official record of decisions made at the meeting. Council may have intended to make an exclusion for the Todsen property, but for one reason or another, failed to do so. The public can’t be expected to be mind-readers. I have a great respect for the rule of law—which requires that decisions must be written down and must be unambiguous. It is a failure of due diligence for council to assume that they had excluded the Todsen’s property from the motion when, in fact, they had not.

Kevin Monahan