Rentals could be coming to Parksville Community Park

City council will use a bylaw that was previously repealed to allow for non-motorized recreation rentals this summer

It may not be seen as the best-case scenario, but the city will now ask for proposals from businesses that want to provide non-motorized recreational equipment rentals this summer in Parksville Community Park.

On Monday night, city council took a step back in time, reversing the repeal of a policy that allowed commercial recreational activities in the park. The policy allowing such uses was repealed in March of 2014.

“The policy was repealed due to ongoing challenges with the use in the park,” read a report presented to council Monday by the city’s new director of administrative services, Keeva Kehler. Over the years, operators expressed “consistent concerns about the suitability of the lease site (Arbutus Point/former hovercraft site),” Kehler wrote.

The city has budgeted for a comprehensive planning process this spring to develop a new Community Park Master Plan. Any new direction from that plan would not likely be in time to allow for commercial rentals — kayaks, paddle boards, etc. — in the park this summer. An operator who offered these rentals in recent years from private land close to the beach was not given permission by the land owner to continue last summer.

“We have to look after having something on the beach, the sooner the better,” Coun. Al Greir said Monday night.

The city is expected to invite proposals in February for an operation this summer at the old hovercraft site.

In other city council news from Monday’s meeting:

• With Coun. Teresa Patterson opposed, council voted 4-1 (Coun. Sue Powell and Coun. Leanne Salter were absent Monday night) in favour of seeking a consultant to prepare a business analysis of the Parksville Community and Conference Centre and its operations.

• The city will spend more than $16,000 to purchase two speed reader boards. Discussion Monday night centred around the need to do something to slow drivers on Despard Avenue between the Alberni Highway and Craig Street.

Coun. Mary Beil and others expressed safety concerns about that particular stretch of road.

One of these reader boards — the signs that flash “Your Speed” — will go on that road soon.

• Council passed increases to both the sewer (five per cent) and water (2.5 per cent) rates for each of the next few years. These increases were discussed in recent months in relation to both the budget and the new water treatment plant.

Director of Finance Lucky Butterworth said the average residential property owner will see an increase of $6/year from the sewer-rate hike and $9-$10 from the water-rate increase.

• Council agreed to endorse a campaign led by the Vancouver Island Students Union asking the provincial government to bring back free adult basic education. The province cut funding for the program in December of 2014.

• Council approved a variance permit for a fence on Pioneer Crescent and it also approved development permits for renovations at two city businesses: Joe Cunningham Ford and Tigh-Na-Mara.

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