Councillors said they were surprised to see it on the agenda, but they unanimously approved $20,000 last week for detailed design work on what's now being called the Jensen Greenway.
Director of engineering Vaughn Figueira was seeking Parksville city council's direction on planned works to improve Corfield Street, a $230,000 project council also unanimously approved last week. How that work was going to look was contingent on what council decided to do with the Jensen Avenue extension plan, a much-discussed roadway that would essentially connect Jensen to the Island Highway at McVickers Street.
During a special meeting earlier this month, council and a full gallery of residents heard from a consultant that the Jensen extension was not needed for traffic-volume reasons, not now or in the next 15 years. At that time, one of the ideas floated for the city-owned land in that corridor between Corfield and Jensen was a pedestrian-cycling greenway. It was just an idea and council made no commitment to the plan, which is why some of them raised eyebrows last week when they were asked to commit city money to the greenway's detailed design.
"I was surprised to see the greenway (on the agenda)," said Coun. Sue Powell. "Normally (direction) comes from council to staff. I wonder why it seems reversed this time."
Figueira said it would be "difficult if not impossible" to proceed with the upgrading of Corfield Street without addressing the Jensen corridor situation.
"I think it (the greenway) is a good idea, but I'm a little uncomfortable about the process, how it's come about," said Coun. Kirk Oates.
Other councillors echoed the comments of Powell and Oates.
Council did approve both expenditures unanimously. Figueira said the public will have a chance to provide input on the projects and council can still change its mind in relation to the actual construction of the greenway.
Corfield Street will get what's called a "full upgrade" from Stanford Avenue to the Island Highway, including water and sewer work and sidewalks for both sides of the road.
In other city council news from last week:
• Council learned Morningstar Golf Course will be hosting the 2016 Canadian University Golf Championships May 30-June 3, an event which will bring a considerable amount of money and exposure to Parksville, including 1,000 hotel nights. For more on this event, see our sports section in Thursday's edition of The NEWS.
• Council received a report from the Bard to Broadway Theatre Society about the city-owned Shelly Road Centre. The society manages the centre for the city.
"The facility is being very well used, particularly by many non-profit groups in our community, groups that cannot afford to use other facilities," said the society's Don Harper. "We believe Parksville needs (the) Shelly Road (centre)."
The management contract with the city comes up for renewal in 2017.
• The Parksville Downtown Business Association updated council on what it has been doing and asked for 25 per cent of its annual levy collected by the city.
PDBA board members listed a number of things that have been done downtown in the past year, including new street signs, a branded crosswalk and a first for the city, a Christmas light-up event.
"I think you have come miles," said Coun. Powell, council's liaison to the PDBA. "I think you are doing a very good job."
• Council voted unanimously to appoint Sarah E. Ross as a bylaw enforcement officer, an addition to staff and a position that's part of a budget that's only been provisionally approved.
• There's a special meeting of council set for 5 p.m. Wednesday at city hall for budget deliberations. City council's next regular meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 4 at 6 p.m. at city hall.