Parksville council is considering gifting the visitor information centre land to the chamber of commerce.
In a presentation before the decision Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce president Rudi Widdershoven said they were requesting the gift because they have put $200,000 into the building over the last 16 years and they need the financial stability for long term planning.
“This is a difficult decision,” said Councillor Al Greir. “The chamber does a good job, but I don’t like to give away land.”
Asked what the chamber’s intention would be with the property, Widdershoven said it would continue to function as it has been as their office and visitor’s centre.
The suggestion that they could then be taxable if they own the land wasn’t considered a problem, with Widdershoven guessing the taxes around $2,000 a year.
“I think the community as a whole really sees that as an asset, the chamber’s doing a really good job,” Burger said as council debated a 25 year lease versus a gift.
“Personally I see no difference between a 25 year lease with an option to renew, I have a real problem with understanding why you need to own it,” asked coun. Bill Neufeld.
Widdershoven said that no matter how long the lease there is still a termination point and a risk that the chamber could lose the asset.
When the city and chamber began looking at renewing the dollar a year lease in early 2011 they discovered a legal glitch that meant the land was actually parkland and they couldn’t renew it before a legal land exchange with the neighbouring Craig Heritage Park Museum and Archive, which has been done.
While city staff recommended the 25 year lease option, on Neufeld voted for that.
In the end only Neufeld voted against the gift option, which staff will bring back a more detailed report on.