Several Qualicum Beach residents voiced their concerns about “clear-cutting” within the town at a public hearing last Monday.
The public hearing was for properties, located at 174 and 180 First Ave. West, under consideration for a zoning bylaw amendment. If the bylaw is amended they will be zoned for commercial 4 from commercial 1 which is currently a lower residential density.
Patricia Bell, a Qualicum Beach resident, said recent property developments within the town are an “increasingly disturbing issue.”
She said Qualicum Beach’s small-town feel stands out against the “soulless, unsightly strip malls interspersed with gas stations or commercial businesses extended along an expansive highway.” But, she said, that is slowly changing.
“It seems this town is steadily starting to lose its charm and uniqueness, along with the feeling of living in the small and natural environment,” she said.
“Does the Qualicum Beach council really want to see the nature and wildlife of the town slipping away in favour of producing more buildings along with losing… the character and natural beauty of a town which is said to be one of the most lovely places to live in B.C. and, more importantly, Canada?”
Graham Riches, who lives on the north side of First Avenue West, said when he moved to Qualicum Beach he noticed there was a row of trees all the way down First Avenue West. Riches said he asked the developer for the proposed 174 and 180 First Ave. West development if there was a way to build around the trees, but he said he was told it was “unaffordable.”
“There’s a lot of murmuring, there’s a lot of ill feeling about what’s happening and I think the clear-cutting of the trees… should be protected.”
Cecil Bosher, who also got up to speak, brought along her copy of the town’s Qualicum of Life survey and asked council where in the survey people could state their “wish to prevent clear-cutting of sites in this town?”
“Where in (the survey) is there a simple question asking me, as tax-paying citizen, what I think about clear-cutting?” Bosher said. “We elect you in because we think you’re anti-development. Are you anti-development? No, you’re not.”
Susan Stark, who owns Captivating Details in Qualicum Beach, said people need to look at the bigger picture, which is that development is important for the health of a community.
“If you focus on trees, which are incredibly beautiful and I’m all for them and nature, those can be replaced and built up again. We live in an old-growth forest area that is regrowing,” Stark said.
Later in the meeting, during the discussion and vote on the development — which passed unanimously — Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer said comments about commercial and green spaces are “extremely short-term visioning.”
Luchtmeijer also went on to say that First Avenue West is the boundary line for the village neighbourhood.
“Anyone who bought on the north side of First Avenue should have expected that across the street was commercial.”