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Parksville Gathering Place project gets financial boost

Project benefits from $171K, part of funds left by late Parksville resident Szepat
Screenshot from Parksville City Council Nov. 21 regular meeting

Parksville’s Gathering Place project is getting a funding boost thanks to a generous donation.

Council voted to transfer $171,385 in funds, bequeathed by Johanna Irmgard Charlotte Szepat, from the city’s General Revenue Fund Reserves for Future Expenditures to the project.

The project’s first phase, the Parksville Outdoor Theatre, was completed last summer and the second phase will include a plaza to host food services, music, art and gatherings. The plaza will be located in Parksville Community Park between the sand-sculpting area and the spray park.

Its budget, created in 2019, has increased along with the unprecedented jump in material and labour availability and costs, according to a report to council by Graham Gidden, manager of special projects.

The City of Parksville was bequeathed $196,385 from Szepat in 2016 for future park improvements in the city, of which $171,385 remains.

Works planned for the project include demolition of existing hardscape, tree protection, plaza and path paving, seating, tables and benches, new curbing, shade canopy, bike racks, waste receptacles, landscaping and electrical and potable water services to support food trucks and performances, according to Gidden’s report.

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“It’s a long way to get here, but it’s going to be a great thing. It’s another jewel in that asset of our community park,” said Mayor Doug O’Brien, during council’s Nov. 21 meeting. “And I’m also very appreciative of the fact that a plaque in memory of Ms. Szepat’s bequest is put there.”

A new washroom facility will be constructed near the parking area. The current washroom kin hut facility will be retained, according to Gidden.

Coun. Amit Gaur asked if accessibility had been considered in the project and if Inclusion Parksville and Accessible Oceanside had been consulted.

Gidden said accessibility is part of the community park master plan’s recommendations and the plaza will be designed to accessible standards.

The design calls for lifting the roadway up through a speed bump, which will allow pedestrians to move through the new washroom area to the plaza area without any elevation changes, creating a barrier-free openness throughout the park, Gidden said.

He added there is still time to consult with Inclusion Parksville and Accessible Oceanside.

Construction will most likely begin in January and will need to be completed in time for the Beach Festival season, Gidden said.

The goal is for the new washroom facility to be completed in the summer as well.

Szepat died in 2014. She lived near the community park and bequest the funds to the city for park upgrades.

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Kevin Forsyth

About the Author: Kevin Forsyth

As a lifelong learner, I enjoy experiencing new cultures and traveled around the world before making Vancouver Island my home.
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