Water talk meeting dates set for Parksville after mayor and councillor trade barbs

Also, Island Health data not favourable for this region re: child poverty, grad rates

Parskville city council gave three readings Monday to a bylaw that calls for a 1.5 per cent property tax increase in 2015 and also set dates for public engagement on the proposed water treatment and storage facilities.

The latter became contentious as Coun. Leanne Salter tried, and failed, to get support for motions related to public meetings.

“I speak on behalf of the community,” said Salter.

“I speak on behalf of the community as well,” said Mayor Marc Lefebvre.

Salter wanted to mandate town-hall meetings every two months “until residents feel they have had enough engagement with council and the city.” Her motion failed 4-3, with councillors Al Greir and Teresa Patterson siding with Salter.

Less than two weeks earlier, council had passed a motion to have a town hall meeting related to the water plant. On Monday, Lefebvre set the dates for that meeting and more. There will be public info session in Parksville May 19 (3-7 p.m. at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre) and Nanoose Bay May 20 (7 p.m. Nanoose Place). There will also be a town-hall-style meeting where residents can ask questions and voice opinions with council and staff present at Knox United Church on May 28.

Earlier in the meeting Monday, Salter put forward a motion asking for the Englishman River Water Service (ERWS) to take 90 days to present less costly alternatives to the plans currently on the table. She did not detail what kind of budget staff would have in this process.

“There have been other (options) that have been discounted by ERWS all too fast,” said Salter. “We should not have all our eggs in one basket.”

ERWS program manager Mike Squires then spent about 10 minutes detailing the history of the ERWS and the process, including the many options considered over the past 20 years.

“I’m not prepared to spend any more money,” Coun. Sue Powell said in opposition to Salter’s motion. “We need to move on with it.”

Salter’s motion was defeated 5-2, with only Greir on her side.

In other council news from Monday night’s regular meeting:

• Dr. Paul Hasselback, the medical health officer for Island Health, presented some local health area profile data.

It showed, among other things, that child poverty is worse in the Parksville Qualicum Beach region than the Island average. The data also showed high school grad rates here are at

69 per cent, which is lower than the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district (72.5 per cent) and the Island average (84.2 per cent).

• Former mayor Chris Burger and Vancouver Island University (VIU) vice-president Dr. David Witty provided council with a presentation related to the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve.

• Witty and Dr. Carol Stuart of VIU updated council on plans for the Parksville-based Centre for Healthy Aging, which Stuart said will concentrate on education more than research.

• The following organizations will get money from the city in the form of grants-in-aid: Ballenas Secondary Dry Grad Committee ($800), Oceanside Hospice Society ($1,000), Parksville and District Historical Society ($400) and the Parksville and District Musical Association ($300). The only group to apply that did not receive money was the Ravensong Breakers Aquatic Club. Coun. Kirk Oates said the Breakers didn’t meet the grant-in-aid criteria. Twice a year, council doles out $2,500 through this program.

• A development permit for Wembley Mall developers was granted by council on Monday, 12 days after they had denied the permit during a previous meeting. Coun. Mary Beil said the proponents, in their new application, went beyond what was required to address the pedestrian access issues that had her vote against the issuing of the permit previously.

• Council gave final adoption to a new fence-height bylaw that adds language to the old bylaw related to retaining walls.

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