The unique and challenging year that was 2021, a year dominated again by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, has drawn to a close. While the coronavirus stories took centre stage much of the year, there was still plenty of other news in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area. Here’s a look back at highlights from the PQB News from April.
• Qualicum Beach residents had an opportunity to give their views on the Pheasant Glen 225-unit multi-residential development, during a virtual public hearing on March 31.
The hearing lasted two hours, with participants offering thoughts on the developers’ application to amend the zoning and official community plan to support a destination resort at 1025 Qualicum Beach Rd. Although there was support for creation of a destination resort, some residents felt the project was being rushed and it lacked details on town infrastructure that would be connected to the resort, as well as the cost to taxpayers, environmental protection of the area and guarantees the property won’t be put up for sale down the road.
• A request for more lights and garbage cans outside Orca Place and along the Jensen greenway was denied by Parksville council.
The vote was held on Monday, March 29, during a special council meeting.
The issue first emanated from two letters received during a previous special council meeting on March 8, and had been tabled until council was provided more information by city staff.
One of the letters was submitted by Violet Hayes, the executive director of the Island Crisis Care Society (ICCS), and the second from resident Sonia Hawkins.
Hawkins wrote in their letter that it was “rather frightening” to have blind spots along the path at night, stating that light fixtures would help prevent crime, animal attacks and provide a general ‘peace-ofmind’ for people that walk the area at night.
• A machete-wielding man was apprehended by police after a tense showdown in Parksville.
Cpl. Jesse Foreman with the Oceanside RCMP said that on March 30 at 4:15 p.m., they were advised of a “suspicious-looking” man who had entered a restaurant with a large machete. Prior to police arriving, the man left on foot along Highway 19A.
Once the 25-year-old man was located under the orange bridge between Creekside Resort and the Riverbend RV resort, police said he refused to acknowledge direction and unsheathed his machete as he walked away from officers. Several police officers attempted to de-escalate the situation, to no avail.
The man then started yelling at the officers and encouraging them to shoot him. He advanced with his weapon and proceeded to slash and stab at the hood of a police vehicle. A Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW) was deployed on the man, which allowed officers to safely arrest the man. Foreman say no one was injured as a result of the man’s actions or during the arrest.
• Parksville council has agreed to allocate $250,000 from its gas tax funds to the Ballenas track upgrade.
The money was originally to be withdrawn from the city’s COVID-19 relief fund but Coun. Doug O’Brien, who raised the issue at a special meeting March 29, said it was the proper platform for the track project.
O’Brien made a motion that the funds be withdrawn instead from the federal gas tax funds, which he pointed out the city has approximately $6 million in reserve. Council unanimously endorsed the motion.
• Qualicum Beach Coun. Teunis Westbroek has decided to use some of his own money to help the St. Andrews Lodge Historical and Cultural Society. Westbroek made the commitment as he was disappointed that the society’s efforts to advance the St. Andrews Lodge project has been slowed in council. He said he would pay for the BC Hydro bill being charged to the society for heating the lodge and also a consultant’s fee.
• Mountain biking in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area continues to grow in popularity and the Arrowsmith Cycling Club plays a large part in that growth.
Roy Kregosky, vice-president of the club, which maintains mountain biking courses in the region that include the family-friendly mountain bike trail at the Englishman River Falls Provincial Park, said it has been very busy. Other trails like Hammerfest, Top Bridge, Little Mountain continue to attract riders locally and from out of the region.
“There’s more mountain biking carrying on because people are trying to get outside more,” said Kregosky. “There’s just a lot more demand for that type of activity, biking in general. Even at Hammerfest where our local single track area for the club, we’ve noticed a larger number of people there. I don’t know where they’re all coming from. Not all of them are club members.”
• A high-traffic Parksville intersection where a Springwood Elementary student was struck last fall will be getting a temporary four-way stop.
Coun. Adam Fras made the motion concerning Despard Avenue and Moilliet Street during the latest Parksville city council meeting.
His motion passed 5-2, with Coun. Marilyn Wilson and Coun. Doug O’Brien in opposition. The motion also included that any incidental costs, up to $2,500, be taken from council contingency.
“I think we provide (residents) with something that gives them immediate enjoyment and livability and improved service in their community… I think it would have an immediate effect,” said Fras.
Keeva Kehler, the city’s chief administrative officer, said RCMP are also monitoring traffic in the morning during pickup and in the afternoon during dropoff times for nearby Springwood Elementary students. According to Kehler, Parksville bylaw officers are also doing the same.
• ‘Chesapeake Shores’ is back filming in Qualicum Beach after work on the TV show was postponed last year due to COVID-19.
The town has indicated council approved the filming this spring with the knowledge that ‘Chesapeake Shores’ production team is following strict and health protocols.
In a press release, the town indicated the film industry has worked closely with WorkSafe BC, the film unions and provincial and local authorities to ensure a safe return to work strategy.
• Ed Fergusson suffered a heart attack last September but that has not stopped him from competing in his favourite sport, weightlifting.
The 85-year-old who owns Ferg’s Weightlifting Club in Parksville, continues to train and last month competed in the virtual 2021 B.C. Masters Weightlifting Championship with three of his students, Ray Kasten, Ashley Madiuk and Dorthy Roi.
All four were outstanding in the B.C.-wide competition with Fergusson bagging a gold medal in the 85-89 age group with a total lift of 72 kilograms. Kasten also won his 65-69 age group with an impressive 140 kg total, which Fergusson said in normal times would have been a B.C. record. In her first-ever competition, Madiuk performed well in the snatch and clean and jerk events, recording a total of 73 kg to earn a gold medal in the 30-34 age group. Roi also showed her potential in her debut competition when she took a silver medal in 50-54 age group with a total lift of 63 kg.
• Town of Qualicum Beach staff members have been overwhelmed by a high volume of Freedom of Information requests during the last 18 months. CAO Daniel Sailland informed council at its committee of the whole meeting on April 21, that at times it has occupied the full-time attention of key staff members.
“That has translated into some overtime work in different areas as we try to keep things moving forward,” said Sailland. “We’re just aren’t equipped with the volume that has come in, in the last 18 months. The exact percentage, it’s hard for me to say.”
Sailland indicated if this continues to be the norm, it will be included in the town’s service review in the fall to find a better way to deal with the growing number of FOI requests. Corporate administrator and deputy CAO Heather Svensen said she’s never seen it as high in the 17 years she’s been with the town.
• Members of the Friends of the Parksville Community Centre went before city council to present the results of an ongoing petition regarding the facility.
David Todtman and Valerie Dare briefly discussed the petition and read comments to council on Monday, April 19.
He said the opinions expressed made it clear citizens want to keep the entire community involved with the centre, opposed to using it as a child care facility for the Boys and Girls Club of Central Vancouver Island.
“We began the ‘save the Parksville Community Centre petition’ in response to many calls for action in support of keeping the PCC as the community gathering place,” said Dare. “With COVID protocols, we had to proceed with virtual actions and the petition was the best way to gather the concerns of the community so we could share them with you.”
• Legendary broadcaster and Parksville resident Bernie Pascall is among the class of 2021 named for induction into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
Pascall was named by Football Reporters of Canada one of the inductees in the media category. The other broadcaster named is Bob Hooper, the longtime play-by-play voice of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
They will be formally inducted at an official ceremony to be held during Grey Cup week this November in Hamilton.
“The CFL is a vital component of Canadian sport. It’s a special honour to be inducted into the Football Reporters wing of the CFL Hall of Fame,” said Pascall. “Joining elite broadcasters like Johnny Esaw, Pat Marsden, JP McConnell and Don Chevrier in the Hall of Fame is most humbling.”
— NEWS Staff