It doesn't sound like Qualicum Beach will be changing its urban containment boundary anytime soon. In May, council asked staff to report in September on making the urban containment boundary match the town boundary. The move would allow growth to more easily occur on the 354 hectares (875 acres) now outside the urban containment boundary.
One area affected would be the Pheasant Glen Golf Course, where the owners have proposed a large-scale resort, hotel and housing development around the golf course.
A boundary expansion would not affect the status of the 515 hectares (1,273 acres) in the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Planning director Luke Sales said in a report that there is really no point in changing the boundary unless council intends to change the land-use designations, at which point it's better to do that as part of an Official Community Plan review scheduled for 2016 (after the municipal elections in November 2014).
As technical and bureaucratic as it all sounds, the issue has resonated with local resident groups who are concerned about a progrowth agenda on council changing the character of the town. However, to make any changes, the town will have to work through the Regional District of Nanaimo to amend the Regional Growth Strategy, something
Coun. Mary Brouilette described as "a long process that has to get started."
Changing the boundary "is not to do with any particular development," she said. "The public has to understand that this is for their benefit."
However, Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer said he prefers waiting for the OCP review, so any changes can be looked at "in the broader context."
Mayor Teunis Westbroek and Coun. Scott Tanner agreed, with Tanner saying an OCP review "is the appropriate venue."
However, Coun. Dave Willie said the options presented by Sales "don't solve the problem.
"We have no growth in this community," he said, saying it's all occurring between Qualicum Beach and Parksville. "None of this does anything to solve the issues that are out there now."
At Luchtmeijer's suggestion, council decided to form a working group involving council and town and RDN staff.
Westbroek said working group meetings will have to be public.
Sales said he'll aim for a meeting in November. Willie's concerns are "quite valid," he said. "It's a discussion that needs the RDN at the table."
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