San Pareil plan

A potential park trail has helped initiate a community plan process for San Pareil.

A potential park trail has helped initiate a community plan process for San Pareil.

Caught off guard by recent talk of a potential trail and bridge between Rathtrevor Provincial Park and Community Park in Parksville, San Pareil-Shorewood Owners and Residents Association (SPORA) member Roy Alexander asked the Regional District of Nanaimo board Tuesday to initiate a community planning process.

“San Pareil residents have serious concerns about the lack of transparency in nearby area’s planning initiatives announced unilaterally in the press by the City of Parksville,” he said of a July 28 story in The NEWS.

Quoting senior city staff, the article said if things went well, preliminary plans for the trail could be made ready for public input before the end of the year, but a followup story said the city still only has very preliminary plans with a lot of work still required with higher levels of government.

Alexander pointed to issues around San Pareil’s water supply and road safety and neighbourhood access concerns as being more urgent.

He said at SPORA’s recent AGM there was a lot of questions and talk about the neighbourhood’s future and the potential impact of neighbouring community’s plans.

He said the Parksville trail plan was “putting the cart before the horse without any planning from the district,” and that “controlling urban sprawl has been a major goal of (the RDN).”

“Our residents and the SPORA board have been kept largely in the dark along with the general public,” he said, adding that residents “have solidly expressed their opposition to this project,” but that it was helping to initiate a wider planning process.

“I hope Parksville will join us in this overdue initiative to create our own plan,” Alexander said, returning to traffic issues several times, saying “It’s just a matter of time before someone dies in a traffic accident.”

Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre assured the delegation, “There’s no intention of forcing anything like a trail — if potentially things go ahead — without discussion and collaboration with the residents of San Pareil.”

He said in a recent meeting with Joe Stanhope, the area’s RDN director, and a SPORA representative, they spoke of how early they are in the planning and how they need a lot more discussion with other government departments.

“When we have answers from the studies being done for due diligence, we’d like to sit down with you and your association and go from there,” Lefebvre said.

“We have no intention of imposing anything on anybody, if it doesn’t work out the way you want then we’ll walk away and remain friends, there’s no imposition, we’re just looking into whether this is a possibility,” Lefebvre said, but Alexander didn’t sound convinced.

“We’re not really interested in going to an open house after the door’s closed,” he said of recent talk of considerable expansion in neighbouring areas like Resort Row, which he said is causing a lot of frustration.

“All these things are putting pressure on us that we need to plan for ourselves,” Alexander said, stressing San Pareil residents’ close relationship to Parksville and that they want to work together.

Lefebvre concluded, “you can be assured you’ll be fully briefed when we have the answers, we have a series of questions and when we do get answers we’ll get together.”

At the end of the meeting a motion from Stanhope for a staff report on initiating a San Pareil community plan passed.

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