Town unilaterally erases OCP protection of QB’s rural properties

May 01, 2022 – The following submission was made to the Town of Qualicum Beach on April 27, 2022 for the Public Hearing re 850 Eaglecrest Drive by Qualicum Beach resident and former OCP Committee member, Kevin Monahan. — Editor

1) There is an apparently minor feature of the proposed amendment to the OCP that has far more impact than any single development would have.

2)  The Town proposes to remove policy #7 of section 2.2.6 of the Official Community Plan.

3)  This policy is the only policy in the entire OCP that unequivocally protects the Estate Residential lands and other greenbelt lands and forests from subdivision development.

One of Qualicum Beach’s cherished large rural holdings — now unprotected from development?

Policy #7.  In order to promote and encourage the retention of large rural holdings, the Town shall not support the subdivision of land designated by the Regional Growth Strategy as Resource Lands and Open Space and Rural Residential, into parcel sizes that are smaller than specified by the applicable OCP that was in place for those lands at the time of adoption of the Regional Growth Strategy on June 10, 2003 (i.e. 2 ha minimum, OCP Bylaw No. 575).”

4)  The intent is very clear “…the Town shall not support…”. This language is unequivocal.

5)  In 2018, at the request of the Town of Qualicum Beach, the RDN made an amendment to its Regional Growth Strategy. At the time Town Council insisted this amendment was purely for the purpose of removing the RDN from land use decisions in Qualicum Beach and that it would have no other effect.

6) Though this issue is present in the documents, the Town has never publicly stated why Policy #7 is to be removed. The only reasoning I have heard is that it is simply a housekeeping amendment to remove irrelevant wording from the OCP.

7)  It is the second part of policy #7, which defines the specific lands that are protected by the policy. As a result of the amendment of the Regional Growth Strategy, the RDN no longer considers there are any Open Space or Rural Residential lands in Qualicum Beach. But the RDN did consider that there were such lands in Qualicum Beach at the time the OCP came into force. So I do not agree that the wording of Policy #7 makes it irrelevant.

8)  It is clear which lands are referred to in the policy. It refers to all of Qualicum Beach’s “greenbelt areas” and includes the Estate Residential lands and forest.

Another acreage destined to become urban sprawl?

9)  If the Government of Canada had made a similar mistake and inadvertently removed a feature of the Income Tax Act, there would have been an immediate rush to replace it with something. No responsible government would do otherwise.  

10) In 2018 the Town publicly stated that the RDN amendment would have no other impact than to remove the RDN from land-use decisions in Qualicum Beach. Now we are being told that the RDN amendment actually had a fundamental effect on the OCP. It rendered Policy #7 irrelevant. Both of these statements cannot be true.

11) When this type of situation occurs, there are a number of options:

            a) fix the mistake

            b) replace the wording with something else

            c) accept the status quo and do nothing

12) But the Qualicum Beach solution is to remove the entire policy without consultation or discussion of the alternatives and to attach it to a zoning amendment which is drawing all the citizens’ attention. The Town has not held any public discussions on the subject, nor has it explained why it has chosen to remove the policy instead of fixing it or amending it.

13) The Town must immediately separate the subject of policy #7 from the proposal for the Todsen development and consult with the public separately on this subject. This is a fundamental change to the OCP and the Town must explain why it is proposing to remove the policy instead of fixing or amending it.

14) I hope the Town will do the right thing.

Respectfully submitted,

Kevin Monahan, Qualicum Beach, BC

BACKGROUND READ: Why is the Todsen proposal still lumbering along?