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City of Parksville juggles funds to make up $500K shortfall for outdoor theatre project

Money to be moved from Memorial Avenue renewal project
An artist’s depiction of the plan for the proposed outdoor theatre in Parksville. (Parksville Beach Festival Society illustration)

By shifting funds between projects, the City of Parksville has found a way to make up for a $515,000 shortfall for the Parksville Outdoor Theatre project.

Acting director of engineering and manager of infrastructure for the city, Joe Doxey, went before council on Monday, Oct. 4, to seek resolution.

City staff had determined the outdoor theatre project was insufficiently funded by $490,000, due to “increases in the market,” according to Keeva Kehler, the city’s chief administrative officer.

In addition to the $490,000, an additional contribution would be needed to cover a portion of what the Parksville Beach Festival Society is able to commit.

“At the beginning of the year for the budget, we allocated $187,000, essentially in cash, from BeachFest. But some of the costs that BeachFest incurred, which they were calculating, are actually ineligible. So there’s about a $24,000 shortfall,” said Kehler.

READ MORE: City staff updates Parksville council on outdoor theatre project

As recommended by city staff, the needed $515,000 could be made up by reallocating that amount from the Memorial Avenue Renewal Project to the outdoor theatre project. The Memorial Avenue project, which includes the installation of a public plaza in the city’s downtown core, would then have the reallocated amount applied back to it from the Gas Tax Community Works Fund.

“In order to free up some money in our general revenue, we can apply gas tax funding to the memorial project, which we did not do originally. And that essentially frees up the $515,000 so that we can, inadvertently, use the gas tax money so that there’s no net increase to the taxpayer, in terms of them not funding this through taxes,” said Kehler.

As per the council agenda, the gas tax funds were specifically prohibited from being directly applied to the outdoor theatre project, as outlined in the grant guidelines.

The Parksville Beach Festival Society first presented the project to council in December 2018, and requested that it be included in the city’s Community, Culture and Recreation Infrastructure (CCRI) grant, since the grant could only provide up to 65 per cent of the eligible project cost to a non-profit, but could provide up to 73.33 per cent of eligible costs to a local government.

In early 2020, the CCRI grant was approved and totalled $1,263,521 for both the outdoor theatre project and the gathering space project, as they had been ‘lumped together’ as ‘improvements to public spaces in the Parksville Community Park.’

READ MORE: Public plaza, roadway changes in downtown core approved by Parksville city council

From the CCRI grant, $802,336 was initially tabled for the outdoor theatre, while $461,185 was tabled for the gathering space.

As council consider their options, Doxey said “if we forego the grant money, we give back the grant money for the whole kit and caboodle.”

At the council meeting, Coun. Teresa Patterson made a motion, seconded by Coun. Doug O’Brien, to follow city staff recommendations and allow the money to change “pots” so that the outdoor theatre project could continue.

“I think the upside to this, and the part that we all have to keep in mind, including all the citizens and taxpayers of Parksville, is that we are going to spend a grand total of $500,000 of Parksville money on this project for something that’s going to cost $1.5 million. So in my mind, if you can get something $1.5 million worth of assets for a $500,000 investment, I think you’ve done pretty good,” said Mayor Ed Mayne.

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Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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