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City of Parksville to create special ecological reserve zone on Despard Avenue

Council unanimously approved resolution to ensure the area is protected

The City of Parksville will create an ecological reserve zone at a site previously considered for the proposed Parksville Aquatic and Recreation Centre.

At the Sept. 20 city council meeting, council unanimously approved a resolution to ensure an area on Despard Avenue, as identified in the WSP Canada report, is protected and that this information be included in future city plans.

Council’s resolution dictated city staff be directed to work with the Ministry of Environment to properly classify the area and document its ecological values and enter into a joint covenant which prohibits disturbance of the Blue Listed ecological features without prior approval from the Ministry and council; and that the area be added to a newly created Ecological Reserve Zone that provides regulations to protect the environmental values identified on the property and balance appropriate public access for passive recreational purposes.

READ MORE: Parksville city council announces aquatic and recreation centre project

A release by the city’s manager of communications, Deb Tardiff, stated there has been misunderstandings about the exact location of the site and status of the lands.

Tardiff’s release stated the area where the ecological feature was identified is currently fee simple lands, not within a park, not affected by any covenant, not protected in trust with an agreement with a First Nation or any other party, and that it is not the wetland feature already mapped and identified 400 metres northwest of the area.

For phase 1 of the feasibility study, the Despard Avenue location was initially chosen as a test site for conceptual design purposes. Council stated it would not pursue this site if there were technical reasons which precluded the site from being developed for the intended purpose or if the costs to remediate the site were expected to be onerous. Following assessments completed by WSP Canada, council agreed the Despard site is no longer a consideration for the project location.

READ MORE: Engineering company to hold consultations for proposed Parksville aquatic/rec centre

“It is important to note the site was chosen based on multiple planning criteria and preliminary independent technical reports which stated the site was feasible but required additional study to confirm constraints. Council voted to investigate the site fully to determine suitability, before committing residents to potentially paying millions of dollars for the acquisition of a new site. Council used grant funds to undertake the detailed analysis and regardless of whether the site was suitable for the pool facility, the technical information is valuable as this and future councils prepare long-term plans for public lands,” said Mayor Ed Mayne.

– NEWS Staff, submitted

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