The building located at 132 Jensen Ave. will close its doors as the Parksville Community Centre at the end of 2020, but reopen in 2021 as a Boys and Girls Club, if city grant applications are approved.
A release issued by the City of Parksville on Oct. 20 stated the current operating agreement with the Parksville Community Centre Society expires on Dec. 31 and the city will not enter into a new agreement with PCCS. The city hopes to use that building as childcare through the Boys and Girls Club of Central Vancouver Island (BGCCVI).
Deb Tardiff, manager of communications with the city, confirmed this was a council decision made on Oct. 5. She also said that if the city if successful in getting the grants they’ve applied for from the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, the BGCCVI “will do some substantial renovations to the inside of the building.”
“There really is a need for childcare spaces in our community, a proven need. It made sense to really turn the space into something other than a rental facility, and have it be more of a used space. And we don’t have anywhere in our community to speak up for the youth. I think council saw this as an opportunity,” said Tardiff.
If the grant does not go through and the city’s application is denied, Tardiff said they’ll “deal with that” if it happens.
The president of the Parksville Community Centre board of directors, Holly Heppner, said she’s had to terminate the employment of seven people because of the council’s decision.
“It’s just a real shame. We’re very sad.”
Heppner is also concerned about the impact this will have on the whole community, and not just those who use the centre. She said companies like General Motors use the centre because they can bring their new vehicles inside. She’s been told there’s no other facility on Vancouver Island that can accommodate their needs.
“We have their employees coming from all over to use our facilities and do their staff training, and spend their money in Parksville. And we have hotels that do weddings, and when they don’t have big enough facilities to put the wedding on, they recommend the Parksville Community Centre… The hotels have lost their space for their clients to use. So the hotels in town will lose that income.”
Elaine Eddy, retired president of the Parksville Quilt House Quilters’ Guild, believes the city council should have held a public consultation before passing a motion.
“You can’t just take away a community centre from a city. I’m not saying they shouldn’t have a daycare – I’m just saying you don’t close a community centre to the community for a daycare… The whole thing just leaves a bad taste.”
The guild, one of the largest in the province, have their meetings once a month at the community centre, plus additional workshops.
They moved in 2018 from the Bradley Centre in Coombs as it wasn’t large enough to hold all 320 of their members.
“There’s nowhere else for us. There is nowhere we can meet now. We don’t know yet how we’re going to move forward,” said Eddy.
Tardiff said there is no contingency plan “at this point” for a community space after the current one closes at the end of the year. She said that council is looking at other potential spaces for rentals, and that Shelly Hall is a consideration.