LETTERS: Roundabout mural dangerous – Disappointing Town climate action

May 23, 2023

Proposed roundabout mural dangerous

Mr. Mayor and Council of Qualicum Beach:

I understand that the Town is considering a proposal for a mural to be painted on the cement wall at the roundabout at the foot of Memorial Ave.

Images: Town of Qualicum Beach

Initially this seems like a “feel good” idea, which would inject some art and beauty into what appears to be an otherwise drab construction. But in my opinion, this is a terrible idea. There is a reason that billboards are not allowed on public land beside highways – they distract drivers’ attention away from the road.

The same applies in this situation – a mural (however well intentioned) would simply serve to draw drivers’ attention away from other vehicles and pedestrians at a very busy intersection. I wonder what the BC Ministry of Transportation [and Infrastructure] would have to say about this concept.

A mural might be appropriate in another location, but the foot of Memorial Ave. already has a spectacular view of the Strait of Georgia, Hornby Island, Denman Island, Lasqueti Island and Texada Island, with the BC Coast Mountains, and the ever-changing sky as a backdrop. It would be difficult to compete with this view.

Art at this level would also be subject to the risk of vandalism.

Once again, this sounds like a great idea, but it is not. Please do not seriously consider this idea.

Kevin Monahan, Qualicum Beach

Town response to climate change disappointing

This letter, distributed to Town Administration and Council, has been edited for length. – Ed.

Dear Mayor and Council:

I undertook quite a lot of background work recently on the current state of other local government Strategic Plans and Climate Change Policies.

I came to the conclusion that the biggest recent missteps of our local government have been:

Failing to recognize a Climate Change Emergency and address a serious Climate Change Plan.

Failing to strike a ‘housing task force’ – or equivalent – and buying into ex-Councillor Filmer’s simplistic line that we don’t need more committees, consultants, studies, we’ve got all the resources needed in our five members of council.

Wasting staff time, resources, and money on developing a Climate Change Adaptation Plan, rather than addressing Climate Change generally, and then developing a proper CC Plan that includes Mitigation and Adaptation

Not moving quickly enough to include the community of QB in our town’s calculations, policy development, and accounting practices – but instead spewing out media releases burnishing our town’s environmental ‘accomplishments’ – as if the town bears no responsibility for the climate change impacts of the citizenry and all of the private lands, homes, businesses, vehicular fleet, collective CO2 emissions and so forth.

Focusing on mega-projects and ‘pet developments’ (East Village, Memorial Roundabout, Airport Industrial Park, Eaglecrest subdivision approval, Public Works Relocation, and others) rather than improving everyday policies and practices that address stated priorities in our OCP [Official Community Plan] that would further sustainable development and new construction at a neighbourhood and local level scale.

Failing to adopt the [BC Energy] Step Code at an earlier opportunity; failure to require adherence to many of the ‘sustainability policies’ of our OCP; and generally, failure to apply our OCP to on-going development approvals, or oftentimes permitting of new developments that contravene and/or violate various provisions within our OCP.

Mount Arrowsmith seen from Fern & Memorial in Qualicum Beach, B.C. May 2023

In doing my ‘local government research’ I came across the Climate Change Plan for the District of Saanich. 

As I began working my way through this document I was totally blown away at the glaring contrast between the amazingly excellent policy that Saanich has developed, and QB’s utter lack of coherent Policy and Plans that address CC.

When [Councillor] Anne Skipsey appealed to our New Council (at some point) to consider adopting a policy wherein all of QB’s policies and practices should be viewed through a ‘climate change lens’ she was suggesting an overarching approach that would allow the Town of QB, and the community of QB to collectively address Climate Change Solutions. Take the time to review the Saanich Plan if you’ve not yet done so.  

It is a truly impressive work – and no surprise that it received the Canadian Institute of Planners top prize for planning excellence in 2021.

 The Canadian Institute of Planners said (in part):
“The jury finds that the process of developing the final plan provides a best practice template for other municipalities across Canada seeking to address the climate emergency. The innovative contribution to planning practice is found in the plan’s technical excellence and its process to develop the scientific baseline calculations, the steps to identify reductions and the actions required to meet targets. The plan is concise, easily understood, and based on a logical, tactical, and science-based approach.”

QB is so far ‘down the list’ in terms of policies that make our town part of the ‘climate change solution’ that it is frightening.  QB could have been a real ‘bright light’ and this is what I imagined when I involved myself in OCP planning when our first Sustainability Plan was drafted under Paul Butler. Qualicum Beach has not lived up to the vision that was articulated in those earlier OCP policies, but most fundamentally our community has been blessed with a series of Councils who have really failed to display the kind of leadership that such a vision would have needed to survive.

And then, when one views Canada’s efforts at being part of the CC Solution from a global perspective, one just has to shrug and laugh. We are ranked 58th out of 63 tracked nations in terms of Climate Change Mitigation Efforts! This chart published annually shows the CCPI – Climate Change Performance Index. The CCPI has been published since 2005 and is one of the world’s most highly respected NGO climate reporting organizations.

So I guess maybe it’s a stretch to look for much leadership in our town. At least we’re consistent with the performance of the other two levels of government in our country.

Bruce Fleming-Smith, Qualicum Beach

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