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Family pleads to Parksville city council for help

A family that has lived on the same Parksville property for generations say they will have to sell and leave their land if they don't get some concessions from the city.

Despite recommendations from staff to the contrary, city council did grant the Parkhurst family one of its two requests last week, and will have a closer look at the other.

Catherine and Paul Parkhurst appeared before council on Wednesday, asking for the closure of a road that goes through their property  at 1514 Seaway Drive and a development variance permit, measures they believe will allow them to divide their eight-acre piece of land, live on the waterfront portion and sell the rest.

"This (request) is primarily on the basis of hardship," Catherine told council. She explained the family — which she said has lived on the property near the Parksville museum for about 60 years — cannot afford the current tax bill for the land. She said the family did obtain a farm designation for about six years but found that wasn't a profitable venture.

"If you do not approve our request, our family will not be able to stay there — we will have to sell and move out."

The road dedication — it has never been used as a roadway, and Catherine called it "the road to nowhere" — basically cuts the property into two parcels, one about two acres on the waterfront where the family has its home, and the other about six acres right on the corner where Franklin's Gull Road turns on to Northwest Bay Road.

The Parkhursts said they want the road dedication eliminated so they can divide the property. The have also asked the city to waive the requirement to provide works and services to the non-waterfront portion, albeit with a covenant that requires any developer to provide those services.

The debate Wednesday was detailed, complicated and went back and forth as councillors asked questions of planning director Blaine Russell. Other members of staff weighed in, raising issues about access to the water for emergency services, something required under province law (a 20-metre-wide access every 200 metres of waterfront).

In the end, council decided to defer the decision on the roadway, asking staff to meet again with the Parkhursts to see what can be worked out. Council did grant the development variance permit, with Coun. Bill Neufeld opposed.

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