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Merchants taking initiative near Orange Bridge in Parksville

Robert Held is one of the merchants in the Orange Bridge vicinity of Parksville looking to spruce up the area. - JOHN HARDING PHOTO
Robert Held is one of the merchants in the Orange Bridge vicinity of Parksville looking to spruce up the area.
— image credit: JOHN HARDING PHOTO

Merchants on the Parksville side of the Orange Bridge say they want to spruce up their area to make it more inviting for tourists and residents alike.

They took their pitch to city council Monday night, stressing they are not looking for any taxpayer funds.

Robert Held, who owns a glass art shop in the area, made a presentation to council that included talk about planters, signage, banners, lighting and ways to slow the traffic.

"We're not asking for any money," said Held.

The city has some concrete planters they are using. Held suggested they be moved into the area. "We'll plant them, we'll water them, we'll take care of them," he said.

Held also suggested some banners be posted to the light poles, much like the ones in the downtown core but "something relatively orange like the bridge."

He said merchants in the area are also concerned at the speed of cars going through the area.

"We're asking for some way to slow the traffic down before the bridge," said Held, who also pointed to work done by the city to beautify other entrances to the city, like at the corner of the Island Highway and Pym Street.

"There's not much done at (the Orange Bridge) end," he said.

Council was receptive to the plans and Coun. Sue Powell made a motion later in the meeting, asking staff to report back on the logistics and any cost of the improvements suggested by the group, which Held called the Orange Bridge Gateway Merchants.

Mayor Chris Burger suggested the group look at forming a Business Improvement Area (BIA), a way to generate funds by directly taxing local business. The Parksville Downtown Business Association, for example, is a BIA.

"I think each and every one of your points would be achievable (through a BIA)," said Burger.

Powell suggested the city could do a "minimal amount" in the Orange Bridge area to make it more appealing.

Briefly, in other news from council Monday night:

• Council gave final approval to a bylaw allowing goats to be used within city limits to control weeds.

Representatives of Goats on the Hoof, an affiliate of U.S.-based Rent-A-Ruminant, made a presentation to Parksville city council in February. The local people who want to start the business here, Beverly Ness and Allan Iwanyshyn, coudn’t be issued a business licence unless council made changes to city bylaws, which it did Monday night.

• First Nations artist Andrew Mack came to council offering to sell a 12-foot totem pole for $8,000. Council deferred the issue to their budget deliberations, which begin this week.

• Council also deferred discussion of support for the Parksville Beach Festival Society to budget deliberations.

• In addition to the weed-eating goats bylaw, council gave final approval to bylaws relate to sanitary and storm sewers, bylaw enforcement, sewer parcel tax and water parcel tax.

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