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Planters and banners coming to Orange Bridge area of Parksville

Businesses near the Orange Bridge in Parksville will get a hand up from the city as they try to raise the profile and beautify their area of the community.

Council passed a motion Monday night to give the merchants some un-used concrete planter boxes and erect some street-light banners still to be developed by the merchants. Staff estimated the cost to the city in employee time and materials would cost the city less than $400. A representative of the Orange Bridge merchants recently made a pitch to council, asking for permission — not any taxpayer funds — to spruce up their area of the city.

There were some concerns expressed by at least one councillor Monday night that this type of marketing might fracture the city.

“The concern was we would have banners all over the city, dividing the community,” said Coun. Sue Powell.

Coun. Carrie Powell-Davidson said she wasn’t concerned about that possibility and was supportive of the efforts of the Orange Bridge merchants.

“I really hope we are setting a precedent,” said Powell-Davidson.

The planters will be delivered to the merchants, which will go on private land and be planted and maintained by the merchants. The city will erect a couple of banners, which will be designed and purchased by the merchants but will have to be approved by council.

Other council news from Monday:

• Coun. Al Greir put forward a successful motion directing staff to have a look at how the city approves fences on top of retaining walls after he heard from some Humphrey Road residents.

Council heard a new-home development followed all the city’s rules when it put a five-foot-six-inch fence on top of a four-foot retaining wall.

“These people (neighbours) are very upset and rightly so, I agree with them,” said Greir. “I wouldn’t want to live under those conditions.” He likened the view from the backyard of an existing, neighbouring home to that of a “prison.”

Staff said the developers did not break any rules in the construction of the fence-wall combo, and the wall related to drainage of the site. Staff will come back to council with recommendations on how to deal with similar situations in the future.

• Council passed two readings of a zoning and development ammendment bylaw related to a development at the corner of Lombardy Street and the Island Highway.

A public hearing on the development is set for June 16 at 6 p.m. at city hall. Garwin Wuerch of Radcliffe Development Corporation gave city council its first look at the 29-unit (plus retail) plan in mid-March. At that time, council expressed concerns about access to the underground parking from 19A, but otherwise had glowing comments about the development, which would replace what’s been called “boarded-up hotel in disrepair.”

Positive comments about the plan continued Monday night. Wuerch held an open house related to the project April 17. Only seven residents attended only three comment sheets submitted, all positive, according to city staff.

Coun. Bill Neufeld said he attended the open house.

"I was really quite amazed at what the developer has put forward," Neufeld said Monday night. "In the end, I think it's going to be advantageous to have this new development in our city."

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