Looking back on his first full year in office, Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre said it was all about water.
Which is exactly what he campaigned on.
Shortly after he was elected in late 2014, Lefebvre told The NEWS his top priorities were the water treatment plant, downtown revitalization and making use of the city-owned land at Jensen Avenue and the Alberni Highway.
“Water was my biggest preoccupation of the year,” he said. “Starting in the very early new year we got notice from the Build Canada Fund that the original amount of money, we weren’t going to get that. That wasn’t going to happen because of oversubscription. That was a big disappointment.”
After a series of open houses, town-hall style meetings and public outreach, he was elated to see a “yes” vote in the city referendum to borrow $5.6 million for the construction of a new water treatment plant.
“The next big issue that hit us like a ton of bricks was the drought,” he said. “I’ve lived in Parksville for more than 18 years and I’ve never seen a summer like that.”
With record-breaking temperatures and forest fires, the city raised water restrictions to an unprecedented Level 4 last summer.
Lefebvre said that was misinterpreted by some residents and he recalled getting a phone call from a woman saying she hadn’t showered in days due to the restrictions.
Following his campaign promise to revitalize downtown Parksville, Lefebvre said he organized a meeting with city merchants but it was poorly attended, something he called “a little disappointing.”
However, he said if the merchants won’t come to him, he’s going to go to them by setting up one-on-one meetings with individual merchants next year.
But Lefebvre said the hardest blow came recently.
“The biggest thing for me was losing (Parksville CAO) Fred Manson,” said Lefebvre, noting they’ve worked alongside each other for nearly his entire political career dating back to 2002 when he was first elected as a city councillor. “We worked together for a long time. Fred was a great CAO. For me personally it’s a loss.”
During the past 12 months, Lefebvre said he wouldn’t do anything differently. He said more than ten years on city council prepared him for the mayor’s office and noted he was proud of the many new faces on council this year.
“Council has come a long way,” he said. “People ask good questions and everyone around the table cares about Parksville.”
Looking into 2016, Lefebvre said he wants to see “some resolution” with regard to the city owned property near Jensen Street and the Alberni Highway though he remained tight-lipped on details.
Meanwhile, he said he’s hoping to figure out the future of the empty Vancouver Island German Jujutsu Systems building along McVickers Street in Parksville.
Earlier this month, council considered donating the building to the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness, ultimately voting for a staff report on the state of the building.
“One of the things I want to do is have a good look at the existing bylaws, especially nuisance bylaws,” Lefebvre said.
“I want to make them more enforceable. If something is declared a nuisance there will be action.”
Moreover, he’s said the city will be working with Island Health to develop smoking bylaws minimizing smoking in public areas like Parksville Beach, working on hiring new city staff and moving forward with Parksville’s water treatment plant.