Former Parksville Downtown Business Association president Marilyn Hahn had some constructive criticism for Parksville city council at Monday night’s council meeting.
While she was careful to praise the city parks department for the work they do on a tight budget, she told council she has been unhappy with many of the priorities they appear to be setting.
“This year, particularly July 1, prior to the Canada Day Parade… I was appalled at the condition of the beds the city is responsible for along the highway and I would be embarrassed to have people come along the highway and see those gardens,” she told council as a delegation at the beginning of their latest meeting.
She spoke of the success of volunteer clean up days in the past and the importance of keeping public spaces attractive in a tourist city.
“I would like to see that more money be attributed in the budget to make sure that there is the necessary staffing,” to maintain high profile gardens.
She pointed to areas like the Welcome to Parksville sign near the visitor’s centre as under-maintained, while she thinks Springwood Park gets too much city staff time.
She said she is against the city acquiring any more park space because she worries they don’t have the budget to maintain the current parks and they would just end up looking terrible.
All the councillors who spoke were very supportive of her suggestions and asked her to submit a list of her suggested priorities for them to consider.
Mayor Chris Burger said they are struggling to set priorities under an austerity plan but staff have processed 210 events in city parks this year and responded to 60 service requests from residents and they are constantly adjusting priorities and service areas.
“We’re going to see the community telling us where they want to see service levels at and that will be by way of complaints or criticisms,” he said pointing out that it can take a year or two for budget and priority choices to take effect on the ground.