Good idea or a waste?

Parksville city councillor wants to make early looks at big projects mandatory; another councillor says that is a waste of time

Parksville will look at requiring developers to present “major land use projects” to council prior to the start of the statutory process.

Coun. Sue Powell brought a motion asking for a staff report on requiring the presentations, which are currently optional.

While developers can, and sometime do, present their ideas to council early in the process, Powell would like to make the presentations mandatory, giving them a chance to explain the proposal and be available to answer questions.

“I think this is very unnecessary,” said coun. Al Greir who called it “inappropriate and a waste of time. Some of the developers do come and it seems too premature, we have about 16 steps before it’s approved and when they come they don’t have a full picture of the situation themselves.”

He said developers are often just working the idea out themselves in those early stages and gave the example of the Beach Club which he said didn’t end up being what people heard proposed in the early stages.

“I can see us spending a lot of time asking developers questions they might not have answers to.”

Powell defended the idea as “a way to have the discussion, I think it would serve the citizens more appropriately, and it might be a way to head off problems in the future.”

She said the early presentations used to be more common and the proposals now come through staff and there isn’t the same amount of information early in the process.

“I fully support this particular recommendation,” mayor Chris Burger jumped in.

“I think its good to have the benefit of as much information as possible as early as possible.”

“I think it’s good for us as decision makers, good for the public, it’s probably even good for the developers,” he added.

He cautioned it is important to keep those early visions in mind as examples only, not necessarily the finished plan.

Chief Administrative officer Fred Manson said it doesn’t make much difference from a staff perspective except that they often haven’t had any input yet before those earliest presentations.

A report on the possibilities will come back to council at a future meeting.