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Qualicum Beach seeks proposals for value-added forestry, agriculture on municipal land

The Town of Qualicum Beach is working to develop a rural innovation hub on 44 acres of municipal land, focusing on value-added opportunities in ­forestry and agriculture.
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Qualicum Beach development proposal

The Town of Qualicum Beach is working to develop a rural innovation hub on 44 acres of municipal land, focusing on value-added opportunities in ­forestry and agriculture.

The town has issued a request for proposals to “design, develop, own, operate and finance a light-industrial, ­forestry and/or agricultural development” on lands near the south end of Qualicum Road.

The goal is to encourage new value-added activities on the largely treed site.

The first batch of proposals must be submitted by Nov. 3. Following that, the town says, proposals will be considered four times a year.

The town has left the door open for a range of possibilities, including selling or leasing some or all of the lands.

It expects proposals would include subdividing or ­consolidating the lots, rezoning and remediation, and lining up servicing, a municipal document says.

“Except to the extent that the town retains ownership in all or some portions of the lands or the development, the town’s role will be minimal,” the document says.

The property includes land within the B.C. Agricultural Land Reserve and a decommissioned landfill with a clay top. Uses permitted at the former landfill are restricted because of its past use.

The town says the goals of the project include creating jobs, generating economic activity, attracting new businesses, supporting local suppliers, and generating revenue for the municipality, including taxes on new commercial building and through long-term leases on the land.

Coun. Scott Harrison said the town has heard from one ­proponent interested in producing products made with glued wood. One example of glued wood is mass timber, which is being increasingly used in construction. In these buildings, the main load-bearing structure is made of solid or engineered wood, resulting in buildings far lighter in weight than concrete structures.

Harrison said he favours the idea of a proponent using local wood to create value-added products rather than seeing raw logs shipped out of the region.

He also said that while the Qualicum Beach area does not have a lot of good-quality soil for agriculture, it has a long growing season and greenhouses might be suitable on the ­property.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com