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2013 Neighbourhood Development Category

Town of Qualicum Beach, British Columbia

Qualicum Beach Sustainability Plan

Population: 8,500
Project duration: 2009–2011
Total project value: $117,885

The Town of Qualicum Beach engaged the community to create a comprehensive sustainability plan to establish a vision for Qualicum Beach in 2050. The plan sets goals to reduce energy use and GHG emissions, and emphasizes the town's long-standing commitment to compact, walkable development and managed growth. The plan was adopted by council and incorporated into its 2011 Official Community Plan (OCP).

The plan reflects a multi-faceted approach to sustainability. It includes steps to convert the corporate fleet to electric vehicles, a "Village Neighbourhood" planning project, a Sustainable Food Strategy, a Waterfront Master Plan, watershed protection measures, a Youth and Family Retention/Attraction Strategy and other projects. A Sustainability Action Plan identifies short-, medium- and long-term targets for each of these areas, allowing the town to monitor progress toward its objectives.

To avoid purchasing carbon offsets abroad and ensure that carbon neutrality measures would directly benefit the region, the town established a Memorandum of Agreement with the Regional District of Nanaimo for regional emissions reduction projects.

This project received support from FCM's Green Municipal Fund (GMF 10202).

Results

Environmental

Economic 

Social 

  • The plan aims to convert 5% of the town's fleet to electric vehicles
  • Building and vehicle upgrades have already reduced GHG emissions
  • Thousands of dollars saved through lighting retrofits and fuel-efficient vehicles
  • Strengthens the economy through legal and regulatory decisions that support new "green" businesses
  • The "Village Neighbourhood" area, focusing on walkability and health, encourages downtown growth
  • A public engagement strategy has helped instill collaborative decision-making and build "cultural capital" as an asset

Challenges

  • Tracking improvements associated with quality of life is difficult to do in the short term, especially in a community like Qualicum Beach where residents already enjoy a high quality of life.
  • It was a challenge to set up the pilot project with electrical vehicle companies without a case study available to serve as a model.

Lessons learned

  • You can do a lot with a little. Share tasks among municipal staff and consultants, make creative use of media and events to spread the word, and share the costs of pilot projects with electric vehicle distributors and community groups.
  • Collaborate with community groups to address concerns and to garner private sector and community support. The project's quality of life survey, large-scale meetings and stakeholder discussions were effective tools.
  • Break things down into small, achievable pieces, and make progress step by step. Moving in a new direction only happens through a series of small, incremental changes and course corrections.

Partners and collaboration

Resources

Page Updated: 21/12/2015