Plans to host world sand sculpting championships in Parksville on hold

Beachfest society and city say they need to work out details about expanding existing sand area in Community Park

Hosting the world sand sculpting championships in Parksville is still in the cards, but not likely in 2016, says Beachfest Society president Cheryl Dill.

Members of the society came to city council earlier this month to announce its plans to host the world championships for five years starting in 2016. When Dill spoke to council that day, she was asking for the city’s help to look at the feasibility of expanding the competition area it uses every year in community park.

On Sunday, Dill said she had met with city staff and it was decided to push back the plans until at least 2017 so proper consultation and study can be done.

“We don’t want to expand the site if it’s going to have a negative effect on the public’s park usage,” said Dill. “We have to think about the overall usage of the park.”

Hosting the world championships would require 2.5 times the sand space the society currently uses for the Quality Foods Canadian Sand Sculpting Championships and Exhibition every year. The current beach volleyball area would suffice for the worlds, but Dill said it would not be fair to push the hundreds of people who play in those leagues off their courts for five weeks.

The 2015 Canadian championships and exhibition are slated for July 9-August 16. The public gets their first look at the competitors and their works July 10. The theme this year is Heroes and Villans.

Dill said the society has received 60 applications this year and must make the hard choices to get that down to 15 soloists and seven doubles teams.

Last year, more than 91,000 people passed through the gates to see the sand sculptures. Since 2000, the society has donated more than $350,000 back to community groups from the money it raised during the exhibition.

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