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Marine highway idea supported by Parksville city council

Parksville city council has thrown its support behind an organization looking to advance a "marine highway" initiative.

The B.C. Ocean Boating Tourism Association (BCOBTA) sent council an information package and a request for support.

The BCOBTA said its goals "are to increase the number of domestic and international boaters in B.C. coastal waters, the length of their visits and the amount of money they spend while here."

Council eventually voted unanimously to send a letter of support to the BCOBTA, but not before some debate.

"It's a letter this year and I think the expectation is they will come back for money next year," said Coun. Bill Neufeld, who pointed out the city does not have a marina.

"We don't have the ability to invest in that kind of infrastructure," said Neufeld, who labelled boaters "upscale clientele" who are better off using facilities like Schooner Cove in Nanoose Bay.

Coun. Carrie Powell-Davidson disagreed with Neufeld's comments and asked that the letter of support include the fact the Parksville Qualicum Beach region has three marinas: Schooner Cove, French Creek and Deep Bay.

"I feel we do have a great deal to offer as a region," said Powell-Davidson.

Mayor Chris Burger said there's no indication of any funding request from the BCOBTA at this point and that council has just been asked for a letter of support.

Council did vote unanimously to provide the letter of support, including Powell-Davidson's point about the region's three marinas.

In other city council news from Monday night (councillors Marc Lefebvre and Al Greir were not in attendance):

• Council approved an election cost-sharing agreement with School District 69.

• Council unanimously passed a motion to give three readings to the Sanitary and Storm Sewerage System Amendment Bylaw.

• An amendment to the city's zoning and development bylaw related to the proximity of construction to a lot's back property line was given two readings and will proceed to public hearing. Neufeld was opposed.

• Amendments to the city's water service system bylaw were given final approval, but only by a narrow margin. Powell-Davidson, Burger and Coun. Peter Morrison were in favour, Neufeld and Coun. Sue Powell opposed.

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