LETTERS: Recycling – LED streetlights – Day Care parking – Public Works Yard

Qualicum Beach recycling – or lack thereof

Open letter to MLA Adam Walker and to QB Mayor and Council. — Editor

On a trip to Courtenay to run some errands, we filled our car with boxes of recyclables we’ve been collecting for at least a year since there is no reasonable recycling pickup from blue bins in Qualicum Beach these days, or any Return-It depots nearer than Nanaimo or Courtenay. To have to drive to either of those just with recycling is out of the question — driving all those miles and burning gas along the way negates any advantage of recycling anything, so we have to store our stuff and take it with us next time we have reason to visit a major centre.

Our well-sorted boxes contained glass jars from store-bought products, styrofoam packaging and meat trays, big 20 lb. plastic bird seed sacks, plastic wrappings of all sorts, small electronics like cables, broken automatic lamp timers, etc., light bulbs, and an outdated and now useless computer printer.

This handsome fellow was seen parading around a local garden nursery.

We arrived at the Courtenay depot in trepidation, wondering how much of our stored recyclables we would have to bring back with us to consign to the landfill, but to our surprise, absolutely everything found a home in the Return-It Depot, where carts awaited to take to one’s car to pile up the many full boxes so they could all be wheeled into the depositing area. The room was big, airy, and quiet — I would never go into the recycling depot in Parksville because of the noise, preferring to drop my stuff outside at the back at the sorting area. In Courtenay there were many big containers against the wall, each carefully labelled with both words and illustrations as to what should be put in each one. If in doubt, staff with uniform t-shirts were around, doing whatever they had to do, while at the same time answering questions and helping us deposit the right things in the right places with cheerful smiles.

As a result we came home with nothing but the empty boxes we’d brought filled to the brim, which we will refill over time and return to Courtenay to make sure they all get recycled in the future, rather than toss them into the garbage which Qualicum Beach would have us do.

When I mentioned to a staff member that the Parksville depot had shut down because customers refused to help themselves or the recycling staff, often being rude or uncompromising; in Courtenay the reply was “Oh yes, we get those here too.” Somehow the Courtenay depot manages to keep a clean, tidy, quiet, helpful recycling depot working well, with cheerful staff of all ages, which makes it a pleasure to go there. If Courtenay can cope, why can’t Parksville make it work?

It was a relief to know that the immense amount of ‘stuff’ we took with us will hopefully be recycled, rather than piled into the landfill, to be dug up by some archeologists in the future who tear their hair out about the wastefulness of those Qualicum Beach residents who tossed everything in the garbage, not concerned about the absolute travesty of living in a throw-away society — [an attitude] to which my husband and I do not subscribe. I was brought up with the motto “Waste not, want not” and I intend to live up to that by recycling whatever I can, rather than unnecessarily consigning things to the landfill.

Come on QB and Parksville, give us the recycling depot we badly need and stop making us drive for an hour each way because there’s no other alternative.

Rosemary Taylor, Qualicum Beach

ERROR CORRECTED in the above letter: We apologize to Rosemary Taylor, and to the staff at the Parksville recycling depot, for removing a comma and adding the word “was” in the following sentence (since corrected). “When I mentioned to a staff member that the Parksville depot had shut down because customers refused to help themselves or the recycling staff, was often being rude or uncompromising;” Ms. Taylor alerted us to the error, explaining: “I certainly neither wrote that, nor intended any such unfortunate meaning. The lack of the comma after ‘staff’ turns the whole meaning round completely, and the replacement of that comma by the word WAS reads as if it was the recycling staff in Parksville who were rude. In fact the staff at Parksville were always very encouraging, friendly, and initially educated us as to the difference between crinkly plastic, non-crinkly plastic and all the other intricacies until we got an A+ for our careful segregation of what we had for recycling.” — Editor

Residential LED Street Lighting

While there is some progress being made to address community reaction to the initial LED installations — see our latest article in today’s edition — impatience and outright anger increase. This May 25, 2021 letter by a Qualicum Beach resident to Mayor Wiese, Council, and Bob Weir, Director of Engineering and Capital Projects reflects the continuing frustration. — Editor

“Without mincing words, I am absolutely furious with the recent decision to change our residential street light bulbs in Qualicum Beach. This decision was made WITHOUT any consultation with residents, and apparently without any understanding of the impact to our community.

This action has wreaked havoc on our entire town. Residents are imprisoned by the tendrils of cold searing light, night after gruelling night with no foreseeable end in sight! Then, to hear cries from those residents impacted, and NOT take immediate action is unforgivable.

Just like air, water, and a roof over our heads, sleep is a fundamental human necessity and basic right.

Overnight, our town is more like an internment camp with ‘over-the-top’ cold light now glaring down on our once warm glowing streets. Similar to living in the CENTRE of an illuminated football field, no matter how hard they try, many residents can no longer sleep at night due to the assault of relentless light spillage.

This brutal assault renders many Qualicum Beach residents without important deep (or any) REM sleep. Disruption of our critical circadian rhythm is catastrophic not only to human health but also to those of our domestic and wildlife species!

We can no longer gaze in wonder at our night sky nor appreciate the comfort that night’s darkness brings.

Clearly, QB’s Town Hall decision makers did not understand the basics of the proposed BC Hydro recommendations for the new street lighting, and the extreme negative impacts it would have on our residents. Hopefully, advice from reliable sources has been sought to remedy the situation.

As Public Servants, it is your duty to fix this colossal mistake QUICKLY so Qualicum Beach residents can reclaim their sanity and their sleep.

Sincerely Disgruntled,

Nory Johrden

Traffic to/from proposed Day Care Centre

Dorset Road area residents will be affected by the Into the Woods day care centre planned for the northwest corner of QB’s Community Park. Recently, Luke Sales met (on Zoom) with a group of these residents to discuss two traffic flow options. One of the residents summarized their feedback to the Town in this letter after the meeting to Town staff and Council. To help readers, here are diagrams of the two options on the table. — Editor

“First I would like to thank Council for arranging  a meeting so that residents could give their views on Plan 1 and Plan 2 suggested for the day care centre.

On Tuesday May 18th a zoom meeting was arranged with Luke Sales regarding the Kindergarten to be built  in the parking lot off Park Road to consider the choice of traffic patterns supplying the area. The site of the building had already been decided by council.

We were presented with two choices:

Plan 1 would divert incoming traffic along Dorset Road from Park Road, then a left turn against the flow of traffic through the present stand of trees to give a new entry and one way traffic system in the parking lot.

Plan 2 was unanimously preferred by the residents present. This kept the present system of entry and exit and avoids the detrimental effects on the neighbourhood of Plan 1.

Some of the reasons for rejecting the idea of the one way system in Plan 1 were:
1) The present traffic system has worked well for residents and park users for decades so why change.
2) The negative impact of Plan 1 on walkers, cyclists, mothers and children, scooters and all who use this now quiet street to gain access to the town and the park with its playground, should be considered.
3) Modern planning seeks to avoid mixing pedestrian traffic and vehicles as it is dangerous and accidents may occur were Plan 1 adopted.
4) The increased flow of traffic diverted along Dorset and then turning left through oncoming residential traffic is unnecessarily confusing and increases the likelihood of vehicle accidents.
5) If thought necessary a separate fire lane could be incorporated easily by widening the present entrance which it is much closer to the fire hydrant.
6) Entry and exit from individual driveways against the increased traffic flow would be more difficult.
7) Diversion of traffic along Dorset Road would give an unnecessary increase in noise pollution for the residents.
8) Installation of a wide footpath and filling in the hazardous deep ditch at the side of Dorset Road should be considered.

Other problems brought up by the residents are not mentioned for sake of brevity but may be in the official record. I thank the council for arranging the residents to have their say and register their unanimous agreement to keep the same entrance and exit as presently exists in Plan 2.


John Case

Rethinking the Public Works Yard Location – Where is the Plan?

In a previous issue we published commentary from a trio of community leaders regarding the Town’s planning for a Dry Recovery centre and relocation of the Public Works Yard. On May 25, 2021, the trio sent the following letter to Qualicum Beach Town Council, “expressing grave reservations on the relocation of the Public Works Yard.” — Editor

“Dear Mayor and Councillors,

We are writing to request an external independent review of the proposed Public Works Yard relocation to Jones and Rupert. We believe the destruction of 5 acres of treasured urban forest land in our community park is unnecessary with greater efficiencies of existing PWY space and/or by relocation of current assets to other sites.

Northeast entrance to Qualicum Beach Community Park.

We question whether there is sufficient definition of planning details to make a budgetary commitment for any public works yard relocation. The Administration’s claim that “An expansion of the Parks and Public Works yards has been the long-term plan for the Town since 2006” is inaccurate (COW MEMORANDUM 29.4.21), the inference being a relocation to Jones and Rupert.

The public record says something different. The 2011 OCP (only the draft is available) states: “The Town’s public works yard shall remain at its present location due to its compatibility with surrounding land uses and convenient central location that results in the efficiency and effectiveness for the staff servicing the Town.” (p. 41) 

In fact, the 2018 OCP supports the 2011 commitment, stating “The Town shall develop a plan for the comprehensive development of Second Avenue East, possibly including a portion of the Town’s Public Works Yard, into a unique mixed-use neighbourhood, the “East Village”.” (p. 92)

We believe this is an excellent alternative to any relocation to Jones and Rupert. The mixed-use of tourist friendly amenities at the same location of a cement factory on Granville Island has been a huge success. (For a creative example on how industrial and cultural purposes can co-mingle see: https://www.vancouverisawesome.com/courier-archive/news/a-look-inside-granville-islands-bustling-concrete-plant-3051129 )

Indeed, the record shows there is considerable uncertainty about both the best location and required details on the location. In May 2019  Councillor Harrison “questioned if the Public Works Yard could be relocated to the airport.” Even as recently as a February 13, 2020 COW details on the proposed relocation were vague at best. When then Councillor Walker expressed concern about the cutting down of trees and other details of the by now proposed relocation of the Public Works Yard to Jones and Rupert  (YouTube, 2:38:37) the Town’s administrative response was that that it would take a year to work through all the details. (2:40:00)

Well, where are the details? Where is the plan?  Where is an evidence-based public report itemizing the costs, benefits, and trade offs for the proposed location? Lacking this we are calling for an external, independent consultant to produce a transparent report on any proposed relocation with alternative strategies made publicly available. Until that is done the Public Works Yard should not be relocated and no trees cut down in our much-treasured community park.

Yours respectfully,

Jay Smith, Pat Jacobson, Graham Riches

READ previously Published Letters