Summary of Scoping Exercise

The purpose of the questionnaire was to help scope the types of issues and opportunities related to village centres and village planning in Area 'H'. In analyzing the feedback, staff focused on understanding the types of topics mentioned in responses, as well as understanding which topics were mentioned more frequently. Here is a summary of that scoping exercise:

1. Changes over the last few years

What has been happening in Area 'H' since 2004 (when the Area 'H' Official Community Plan was adopted)? (12 questionnaire responses + open house comments sheet)

Growth has been noticed by most respondents, both in general terms and in terms of specific locations, with Bowser/Deep Bay being mentioned as higher growth areas than the Dunsmuir and Qualicum Bay areas.

Topics also noted include changing demographics, housing affordability, tree and habitat loss, water supply and quality, environmental pressures, and regulations/bureaucracy.

2. Guiding Principles

The RDN, through a number of policies and initiatives, has committed towards working to become a more sustainable region (See open house information for more details). The following questions were asked to gage community support to develop guiding principles for the project that are based on sustainability goals.

Should we at the beginning of the project, have a set of sustainability principles that village planning would need to address? (14 questionnaire responses + open house comments sheet)

Responses to this question were favourable, with 12 of 14 answering yes, and two answering that they were unsure. Open house comment sheets were also supportive.

Does it make sense to use the RDN Strategic Plan Vision Statement, the Regional Growth Strategy Goals and the Official Community Plan Community Values Statement as a basis for developing a set of sustainability principles ? (14 questionnaire responses + open house comments sheet)

Responses to this question were also favourable, with 11 of 14 answering yes, 1 answering no (wanted OCP only to be used), and 2 indicating that they are unsure. Open house comment sheets were also supportive.

Do you have other thoughts about guiding principles for village planning? (10 questionnaire responses)

Respondents provided a wide range of responses:
  • urban containment boundaries,
  • more village nodes with greater densities to take pressure off larger rural acreages,
  • transportation alternatives (bus service, bike lanes, improved/safer artery roads),
  • balancing environmental sustainability with human needs for housing and services/balance development with local social needs,
  • a mixed community in terms of age and socio-economic factors;
  • not a commercial strip from one node to another,
  • no golf courses which use large amounts of water and fertilizer;
  • encourage local business rather than franchises and big box-stores;
  • service clusters (Asian model - suite of services for every housing development)
  • no need for any
  • planning should be where there is some activity such as New Malaspina Research Centre

3. Issues & Opportunities - General

The following questions were developed to help identify the scope of issues related to the village centres and village planning in general, and to identify planning issues which might relate to all village centres areas.

What kinds of things do you think are important to consider as we begin thinking about planning for village centres in Area 'H'? (12 survey responses + open house comment sheet and e-mail).

Are there planning issues that relate to all three village centre areas? (12 survey responses, open house comment sheet and e-mail)

Given the open-endedness of these two questions, a range of responses were provided. The following table provides a list of the topics identified. The categories that were mentioned most often include mobility and commercial uses.

Table 1 - General Issues & Opportunities - Scope of Responses

Mobility Additional road access from Hwy 19 to Deep Bay
Public Transportation
Walking & cycling routes
Traffic safety along Hwy 19
Corcan Road
Beach access
Commercial uses Additional services
Tourism/green tourism
Additional commercial opportunities
Location and types of retail/commercial
Promote local businesses
Health & Family Services Location of health & medical facilities
Childcare facilities
More health services
Infrastructure Sewage treatment
Green infrastructure
Underground wiring
Social impacts Affordable housing
Changing demographics
Sense of Place Preserve rural character
Keep large scale developments (eg. 1200 house project proposed a few yrs ago) in urban areas
Gentle ways of living
Form & Character Building height
Economic Tax implications
Importance of shellfish industry
Regulations No more regulations
Personal infringements
Sustainability/ Quality of Life Sustainability - appropriateness
Quality of life
Timing of development between village nodes Bowser active; Dunsmuir/Qualicum Bay dormant
What is probability of seeing dev in Dunsmuir as opposed to Bowser/Deep Bay?
Locations of village centre size of boundaries Dunsmuir
Deep Bay

4. Issues & Opportunities - Area Specific

The following questions focus on planning issues and opportunities related to each village centre area or surrounding area.

Are there planning opportunities or issues that relate to a particular village centre area or surrounding area? (12 questionnaire responses + open house comments)

Table 2 shows the range of responses provided for each village centre area, as well as for the Deep Bay area.

Table 2 Area Specific Issues & Opportunities - Scope of Responses

Dunsmuir Timing or location questioned
Questions re commercial uses
Horne Lake Road safety
Lack of identity
Qualicum Bay Tourism opportunities
Keep beach public
First Nation involvement
Community hall
Bowser Rail
Additional tourist businesses
Traffic congestion/safety issues at businesses accesses
Developing nicely
Additional retail & services
Bowser Elementary School
Deep Bay A more desirable location/needs to be considered for a node
Focal point for water access & activities
Opportunities for more tourist commercial
Opportunity for green development
Growth management needed
Other General beach access
Personal infringements as a result of further planning
Environmental protection

The open house displays provided background information regarding the original identification of village centres, and the process by which the original village centre boundaries were created. Planning staff were interested in knowing whether there were any questions from a community perspective, on the locations, size or boundaries of the centres.

The boundaries of the village centres in Area 'H' originate from the 1996 Shaw Hill-Deep Bay Official Community Plan, and to the best of our knowledge, were based on historical/existing commercial and residential areas, and the presence of adjacent, relatively large land holdings. Do you have any thoughts or questions about the location, size, or boundaries of any of the village centres in Electoral Area 'H'? (10 questionnaire responses + open house comment sheet)

Comments were provided relative to each of the village centres as well as the Deep Bay Area.

Table 3. Questions/Thoughts on locations, size or boundaries of Village Centres (Scope of Responses)

Dunsmuir Questions why this is a node
Horne Lake at Hwy 19 should be commercial with potentially some housing
Qualicum Bay Danger of spreading along hwy
Size and location works well
Bowser Centre area is limited
Traffic safety issues
Size and location works well
Deep Bay Should be a village node
Other Combine Bowser and Deep Bay areas
Individual village nodes but an overall plan for sharing resources
Cancel all boundaries

5. Village Centre Plans vs. Village Plans

The open house displays provided an overview of the Official Community Plan (OCP) policies and implementation actions (i.e. further work required) related to village centre planning. The OCP directed that "Village Centre Area Plans" be created , which would imply on face value , plans for the village centres only. Staff were interested in knowing whether residents saw value in thinking about a "village plan" which would provide direction for village centres, and also provide a more holistic view of a village.

The Official Community Plan directed that "village centre plans" be created. On first read, this would imply a plan that only covers the area of a village centre itself. However, some village centres, such as the Bowser village centre, are surrounded by residential neighbourhoods... Do you think that there is a need to have a "village plan", which provides a more complete picture of a village, its centre and its relationship to the surrounding areas? (12 questionnaire responses + open house comment sheets)

10 of 12 questionnaire respondents answered 'yes' to this question, with 1 'no' response and 1'unsure' response. Open house comments were supportive generally.

6. Survey Participants

A series of questions were asked to get a better sense of the diversity of respondents.

Did you participate in the review process for the Electoral Area 'H' Official Community Plan (around 2003-2004)? (12 responses)

Responses indicated a good split between those who did and those who did not participate in the last OCP review.

Table 4. Participation in last OCP Review

yes 5 36%
no 5 36%
unsure 2 14%
skipped question 2 14%

How long have you lived in Electoral Area 'H'? (12 responses)

Again, responses indicated a good split between those who are more recent to the community, and those who have lived in the community a long time.

Table 5. Length of time lived in area

under 2 yrs 0 0%
over 2 yrs & under 5 yrs 5 29%
over 5 yrs & under 10 years 0 0%
over 10 yrs & under 20 yrs 2 14%
over 20 yrs & under 30 yrs 0 0%
over 30 yrs 5 36%
landowners but not residents 1 7%
skipped question 2 14%

What community do you live in? (11 responses)

Respondents come from various parts of the area.

Table 6. Location of Residence/Ownership

Bowser 3 21%
Qualicum Bay 1 7%
Dunsmuir 3 21%
Deep Bay 4 29%
Skipped Question 3 21%

7. Community Mapping Exercise

Respondents were asked to show on a map what they considered to be the boundaries of their community. 5 responses were mapped by participants, and others provided input through text. It is interesting, and perhaps not surprising to note that the Bowser Village Centre was identified by most respondents as being a part of their community.

[ Click here ] to view the results of this mapping exercise.

Respondents were also asked to identify the places they value most in their community.

Responses included:

Fresh air; quiet; slower pace; affordable living; wildlife; green space/ trees; walking & hiking; community centre; legion; Bowser Elementary; variety of building styles; Bowser Village; Tom's Store; Deep Bay Dock and Boating; Deep Bay Spit; beaches; lakes, creeks, people and water. (bold = mentioned most times)

8. Getting Around

Staff was interested in understanding better how easy it is for people to get around their community, and where and how people are travelling outside of their community for work, school or shopping.

Unfortunately, there were not a lot of responses to these questions. However, it was noted that responses were in line with other information provided elsewhere in the survey.

9. Retail & Services

Where do you do the majority of your grocery shopping? (name of village, town or city)

Of the places identified, Qualicum Beach was mentioned the most (33% of all responses), then Parksville and Courtenay (19% of all responses), followed by Bowser and Nanaimo (14% of all responses).

How much of your shopping needs are met locally? (locally means within a 5-10 minute drive or an easy bike/walk away)

Most respondents indicated that less than half or very few of their shopping needs are met locally.

What types of additional retail or services would you like to see locally?

A range of responses were received from this question, from no additional retail or services required to all services that you would find in a small town. However, most respondents indicated a few additional retail or services, with Pharmacy, Doctor, larger grocery store and restaurants being mentioned more often than others.

10. Public Involvement

To assist in preparing a public consultation program for the project, staff asked for input on who should be involved in village planning and preferred participation methods.

Who needs to be involved in village planning (specific groups, clubs, business associations, others)?

Respondents identified the following:

Everyone; youth; seniors; utility providers; business associations; community clubs and organizations; resident associations; absentee property owners; non-property owners; shellfish industry; RDN planning department; elected representative.

Resident Associations were raised by some. At present, there is one Resident Association that staff is aware of and this association represents a small geographical area, relative to the Dunsmuir to Deep Bay catchment area.

How should the RDN communicate with you? What methods work best for you?

Table 7. Preferred Community Methods (Questionnaire Feedback)

ChoicesResponse countResponse %
open houses 9 90%
workshops 1 10%
evening meetings 3 30%
weekend meetings 0 0%
day time meetings 1 10%
newsletters 6 60%
RDN internet website 2 20%
personal e-mail 3 30%
Skipped Question 4

Additional comments included:

  • Open house is good. I want to be heard and am willing to make the effort. Face to face is critical - communication is never complete without face to face element
  • Beacon, internet
  • Mail which will reach red-dotted mail boxes
  • Open house when plans available; newsletters to go to every home to keep updated
  • All of the choices (in questionnaire), but I quit using internet
Open house comment sheets noted:
  • Email - collect addresses from interested parties
  • Advertise meetings in The Beacon
  • With a referendum - let us vote on it
  • Public hearing process that includes presentations from planners & input from public
  • All of the above

11. Other

Respondents were given an opportunity to provide other feedback. Please refer to survey results for details.

12. June 2008 Open House Evaluation

The open house questionnaires contained an open house evaluation form, which was completed by 7 attendees. Approximately 40-50 people attended the open house.

The majority indicated that they heard about the open house through the Beacon (6 of 7) and the PQ News (3 of 7).

The majority found the information in the displays useful and easy to understand (6 of 7 said yes; 1 said no).

All respondents found staff approachable and easy to speak with.

All respondents found it worthwhile coming to the open house.

Suggestions were made for future open houses, including:
  • more of the same;
  • planners time should not let their time be dominated by aggressive attendees/keep discussions on topic;
  • use of a small central office by RDN staff at Magnolia court worked well during the last OCP review.


The purpose of the June 2008 Open House was to share background information on the village centres and village planning in Area 'H' with area residents, and to begin to learn more about the planning issues and opportunities related to the village centres and village planning from a community perspective.

Given the relatively few number of responses, it cannot be assumed that the results are representative of the community at large. However, those who participated in the open house and the survey provided a range of ideas and comments, and together helped to identify a broad scope of ideas and issues related to village centres and village planning, not dissimilar to a brainstorm of ideas.

This information is part of the background information for the project and was taken into account in the drafting of the project Terms of Reference (the work program).

Questions can be directed to:
RDN Strategic and Community Development Department

Email: planning@rdn.bc.ca
Phone: 250-390-6510
Toll Free: 1-877-607-4111
Fax: 250-390-7511
Mail to: Regional District of Nanaimo
Strategic and Community Development Department
6300 Hammond Bay Road
Nanaimo BC V9T 6N2