The Parksville Downtown Business Association plans to spend $22,000 sprucing up the streets of the city in 2015, members learned at the group’s annual general meeting on Tuesday.
About 75 people packed a small room at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre for the meeting, an attendance figure not lost on past president Michelle Jones, who marshalled members through the agenda.
“This is the most people we’ve had at an AGM,” said Jones. “The more people who get involved, the more we can get done. We realized through the summer and into the spring that people were getting more interested in downtown and what we do.”
Jones may have been addressing not only renewed interest in the downtown, but some dissent among members that became apparent when a group of Craig Street merchants appeared before city council last year unhappy with what they perceived as a lack of attention to their shopping district from the PDBA. One of the leaders of that Craig Street group, Barry Evans, asked some pointed questions at the AGM on Tuesday night about the need for a salaried employee.
About one-third of the association’s $155,000 budget is spent on the salary of the executive director.
“You don’t get things done when everyone is doing it as volunteers,” said Jones. “If we have big hopes of moving things forward, we need staff to do it.”
Evans pressed the issue, saying the city bylaw establishing and setting rules for the PDBA does not include provisions for the hiring of staff.
“The bylaw doesn’t exclude us from paying a salary,” Jones countered. “I don’t read the bylaw the same way you do.”
Evans, and others, also wanted board members to explain expenditures related to a study examining the feasibility of a funicular (cable railway) to link Community Park with the downtown core. The association will end up spending about $12,000 on this study, $8,000 in 2015.
“You just went ahead and spent it without asking the membership,” said Evans. “Don’t you think you should have went to the membership?”
PDBA member Penny Shantz entered the conversation, saying the board is elected by the membership and entrusted to do the association’s business.
“Any non-profit society depends on their board,” said Shantz. “A lot of people in this room believe they (the board) are doing a good job.”
The PDBA’s 2015 budget suggests project spending of $87,450 (up from $61,550 in 2014) and administration costs of $80,240 (about $500 more than 2014). Jones said that while projects, including streetscaping and a Christmas program, have specific budget figures assigned to them now, it’s up to the new board to shuffle priorities, and money, as it sees fit.
Members elected seven new board members Tuesday night from a list of 11 names. President Craig Carmichael (Island Exposures Art Gallery) decided not to run for re-election. The new board members are: Melisa Beatty (Coastal Community Credit Union), Cindy Craig (Oceanside Stylist and Barber Shoppe), Randy Henson (Quality Foods), Sandy Herle (Close to You Ladies Fashion, Lingerie and Footwear), Kristy Lotzien (Soak Essentials), Tony MacAulay (McLane and MacAulay Notories Public) and Heather Taylor (Blossoms ’n Such Flowers, Botanicals, Artisan Works).
The five board members who will serve the second year of their two-year terms are: Judy Evans (Mercedes Lane), Michelle Jones (Timberlake-Jones Engineering), Carol Ormiston, (Parksville Home Hardware), Neil Watson (HollisWealth) and Arthur Wong (The Beach Club Resort).