Fate of Qualicum College building uncertain as council debates scrapping replica from development

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A replica of the old Qualicum College building could be scrapped from a proposed development plans at 431 College Road in an effort to reduce density.

Coun. Teunis Westbroek moved an amendment at council’s Feb. 24 regular meeting to withdraw the owner’s obligation to replicate the college building. 

After discussion, council voted unanimously to work with the owner to reduce the density by nine units — the final motion did not mention the replica.

Both councillors Scott Harrison and Robert Filmer were against removing the replica from the project requirements.

“If that is the route that we are going, I am not sure where I stand on it now as for support,” Filmer said. He supported the project originally because it would include the replicated heritage building.

Harrison said if the building is removed from plans, the town may have to hold another public hearing because it is a significant change to the development.

Density and parking were concerns brought up by College Road residents when council held its public hearing.

Mayor Brian Wiese brought forward a motion to withhold adopting zoning bylaws for the development until the old building has been demolished. 

At council’s meeting on Jan. 27, it voted to have the demolition completed as soon as possible.

It is still unclear when the college will come down as the developer has not yet applied for a demolition permit, according to Luke Sale, director of planning.

“The fire department has characterized the building as a fire hazard — I don’t think we can wait even until we may adopt this. I think it has to come down now because of the fire risk,” said Westbroek.  “If anything happened to anybody there or their property because, we were told it was a fire risk, we have a very weak case to defend ourselves that we didn’t do anything about it.”

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