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Parksville council plans to add downtown lighting project to budget

Year-round lighting, improved Memorial Plaza display among PDBA ideas
The Parksville Civic and Technology Centre at 100 Jensen Ave. (PQB News file photo)

Parksville council plans to add a new downtown lighting project to this year’s financial plan.

The Parksville Downtown Business Association (PDBA) has proposed three lighting initiatives to enhance the vibrancy of the city centre.

Council received additional information about the costs the projects will likely accrue to the city during a committee of the whole meeting on April 8.

The projects include making the lighting on Alberni Highway permanent, rather than seasonal, upgrading the lighting canopy at Memorial Plaza and the seasonal installation of a 28-foot Christmas tree, also in the plaza.

The year-round lighting on Alberni Highway alone is estimated to cost approximately $25,000 a year in staff time, contractor time and other supports, according to Jedha Holmes, director of finance.

The city will also need to pay a larger hydro bill, she added.

“At an absolute minimum we think it would be at least $10,000,” Holmes said, and added the city will also be on the hook for costs related to maintenance and vandalism.

“As you know we’ve seen a lot of that in our community of late,” she said.

Although the budget includes $100,000 for downtown lighting, that funding is allocated for a different, much wider project, Holmes said, including lighting for security purposes and banner lighting.

Implementing the PDBA lighting project would entail a service level change, said chief administrative officer Keeva Kehler, and staff would need direction.

“We do not have in our budget staff time allocated to support Christmas events at Memorial,” Kehler said.

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Staff would need to determine logistics such as allocation of staff time for maintenance and garbage cleanup. In the summer season, staff normally have nothing planned for lighting, she added.

“Staff who would normally be in the community park or at Foster park or at Springwood doing outdoor related things will now have to find some time to do support for lighting,” Kehler said.

Mayor Doug O’Brien expressed frustration that the city has new assets such as Memorial Plaza, but struggles to find capacity to host community events.

“We found all the money and the grants and so forth to have it happen in the first place and then we started having events and every one of those events took extra staff time,” O’Brien said. “I think that from now on before we talk about our community assets being improved or added to in the community we should put a value on it right from the very start for what this could look like for increased staffing.”

He also suggested the city may need to look at adding staff members, and believes the city should do what it can to support the PDBA’s efforts.

O’Brien made a motion for a recommendation to defer the Parksville Wetlands plan to next year, and add the PDBA lighting project to this year’s financial plan.

Council will revisit recommendations made during the committee of the whole meeting and have an opportunity to vote at its regular meeting on April 15 and special council meeting on April 29.

Kevin Forsyth

About the Author: Kevin Forsyth

As a lifelong learner, I enjoy experiencing new cultures and traveled around the world before making Vancouver Island my home.
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