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Resort property for sale

Owner says 180-day-stay rule a factor in his decision to sell

The much-discussed Parksville Beach Resort property, where owner Bernie Walsh has proposed many projects over the past 10 years, is for sale.

In May 2012 Parksville city council approved a development permit application for 81 single family units of around 90 to 140 sq.m. (1,000 to 1,500 sq.ft.) on the marquee property beside The Beach Club.

"To make a long story short, since we got that approved, it turns out the banks and big institutions won't finance anything with 180-day stay limits, either from the standpoint of big developments, or for individuals looking to buy units," Walsh said.

"Nobody's doing it, nobody wants to touch it," he said. "Ever since the 2008 crash things have gotten tougher and tougher."

Walsh has been open in the past about his frustration with the slow process, disorganization at City Hall and the negative public response some of his proposals received, but said "the development environment in Parksville has improved a lot in the last couple years."

He said he thinks the 180-day rule should be dropped. "It's not just affecting me, it's starting to affect all development," he said, but either way he said he feels the time is right to sell.

Mayor Chris Burger said that while city council recently removed an agenda item proposing to drop the rule, there is still a big discussion to be had.

"We do want to ultimately arrive at the right mechanism to deal with it," he said, indicating that while it's not the highest priority, it will come up again.

Burger suggested once the new official community plan is adopted, it will be the logical step to review and update the zoning bylaw and the 180-day rule will likely be discussed then, or following that process.

There have been suggestions by residents and Coun. Bill Neufeld the city or a non-profit group should buy the property and turn it into a park or some other kind of public space.

In 2010, Parksville chief administrative officer Fred Manson estimated the property to be worth $9 million, which would require a 14 per cent tax increase to residents to pay it off over 20 years, plus the cost of maintenance, removing the current buildings and loss of tax income.

The seven-acre property, at 161 W. Island Highway, is listed for $7 million by DTZ Victoria and would come with the 81-unit development permit.

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