Suite 16 for Parksville?

A developer hoped to generate public feedback and discussion when it hosted an open meeting on a proposed development on a prime piece of beachfront real estate in Parksville last week.

Thanks to a plan for a six-building development, with one structure towering an unheard-of 16 storeys over the downtown core and the waterfront, it has certainly generated a buzz.

IAG Developments, owner of the site at 161 Island Hwy. E. where the former Parksville Beach Resort sits boarded over and unused, hosted the public meeting with its consultant team, Moore Wilson Architects Ltd.

Representatives shared a vision of a mixed-use, multi-building complex that would ostensibly include both condos and rental housing, in addition to a hotel, events centre, pub and fitness centre.

The public information meeting was held, perhaps fittingly, at the adjacent Beach Club Resort, the city’s tallest building at seven storeys. That structure is still viewed by some residents as a view-blocking monstrosity, yet it would be dwarfed by the IAG development as it’s currently proposed.

Early responses to the IAG proposal include concerns of blocked views and the fear that it would open the floodgates to ranks of high-rises marching along the city’s waterfront.

Critics might respond that the current face of Parksville includes a boarded-up and fenced-in derelict of a shuttered resort in a prime waterfront spot downtown. Are either of these images of Parksville what we want to display to the world?

This was not a bylaw-mandated public hearing for a development proposal before council. Indeed, IAG and Moore Wilson have not yet submitted the required rezoning application, let alone an actual development application. It could, and may well, change through the application and deliberation process.

Parksville is in the midst of an affordable housing shortage acknowledged by nearly all sectors of the community, even if every development proposal is greeted by a segment of the population that feels it should be placed “somewhere else.”

Unlike projects in various residentally zoned parts of the community that draw the usual NIMBY concerns, this one at the crossroads of the Alberni Highway, Highway 19A and the waterfront has implications for all of Parksville.

The scope and location of this proposal make it the kind of thing that could spark a discussion about what we all want to see Parksville become in the years ahead.

It appears that’s a discussion whose time has come.

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News