Parksville city council approves $2,500 in grants

Plus other news from council's meeting on Monday night

City staff will have a closer look at the criteria going forward, but Parksville city council unanimously approved grants to six community organizations on Monday night totalling $2,500.

Coun. Bill Neufeld introduced a motion asking staff to have a closer look at the criteria for the city’s grant-in-aid program. He raised concerns about what the organizations were using the money for — specific projects or ongoing programs. He also wanted to explore any residency requirements for the associations receiving the money, essentially do the workers or volunteers live in Parksville and provide services for city residents.

He also wanted staff to look at whether groups who apply are also getting funding from other governments like the Regional District of Nanaimo.

“It’s a matter of double-dipping,” said Neufeld.

Councillors agreed staff should look more closely at the program, some saying they were in favour of the motion because the last revision was done 14 years ago.

The following organizations received grants on Monday night: Haven Society ($500), Oceanside Building Learning Together ($500), Parksville/Qualicum branch of the B.C. SPCA ($250), Parksville Seniors Activity and Drop-in Centre Society ($250), Royal Canadian Legion Ladies Auxiliary Branch No. 49 ($750) and Vancouver Island Opera ($250).

“It’s a small amount of money but it does show we support them,” said Coun. Carrie Powell-Davidson.

In other city council news from Monday night’s regular meeting, which wrapped up in less than 45 minutes and was chaired by Coun. Peter Morrison in the stead of absent Mayor Chris Burger:

• A zoning and development amendment bylaw to accommodate a proposal to build a condo project on five adjoining McMillan Street lots was given final approval. Third reading was given to a zoning and development bylaw related to the proposed Quality Foods project, while second reading was given to a bylaw allowing the city to enter into an agreement with the Kingsley Low-Rental Housing Society for a project on Hirst Street.

• Council, with Neufeld opposed, agreed to sell what was deemed a “surplus” 1990 fire truck to the Bella Coola Volunteer Fire Department for $30,000.

“I think this is a vehicle we should be keeping,” said Neufeld. “I think we could make use of it.”

Chief Doug Banks said there’s no room to store the truck and to keep it would mean more than $5,000/year in maintenance and pump servicing, plus the costs of insurance and fuel.

Coun. Al Grier voted in favour of the sale, but not before he pointed out the steep depreciation the city incurs with these purchases.

“That ($30,000) seems to be the set price for a used fire truck that we buy new for half a million dollars,” said Greir.

• Council debated the role and make-up of the city’s advisory design panel before passing a motion to change the terms of reference of the group that looks at new developments for their form and character before they appear before council.

“I question the need for this panel,” said Greir. “We want to move quicker with development permits. I don’t know how important it (the panel) is.”

Powell-Davidson disagreed.

“This is a very valuable committee,” she said. “They are watchdogs to ensure the form and character of projects are what we adhere to in the city of Parksville. I can’t think of anything more important than how our city looks.”

Developers can ask to bypass the panel and go straight to council. It was noted there were problems in the past getting a quorum for the panel’s meetings because of the busy work schedule of its members, architects and designers. Council agreed to change the terms of reference to make the panel have a minimum of five members, instead of the old language that had it at a maximum of six.

“Maybe we should have a part in there (the terms of reference) about commitment,” said Coun. Sue Powell, “because that’s what we are lacking here is a commitment from people who want to sit on this panel.”

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