Cabin fever

The opportunity for Parksville residents to have a say on development is long gone

Get ready for the next wild ride at city hall in Parksville.

Development on the waterfront is back in the spotlight this week as property owner Bernie Walsh presents his latest proposal for his land next to The Beach Club resort. For years, Walsh has been duelling with city hall and city residents over his plans for the site.

Walsh has done his best to try to come up with a plan to replace his Parksville Beach Motel with something that fits with the city’s official community plan — and with the desires of area residents. To date, he has been rebuffed each time.

Now, instead of building a paved parking lot there out of spite (he was probably joking bitterly when he mentioned that option), Walsh is proposing a high-density project featuring cabins. Not the rustic kind, but tourist-oriented residences — modern cabins that can be bought as homes and/or included in a rental pool format. He says his latest plan fits the current land zoning.

That means as long as the development looks good, city hall really can’t do a thing, legally, to stop it. City hall has been gun shy of approving development on the beach, ever since existing buildings received a very rough ride from folks in each of the last two municipal election campaigns. It’s safe to say the issue still exists, as residents are very protective of the waterfront — and the views of the ocean from above Highway 19A.

This latest proposal will certainly raise those feelings again, as it gets away from outright commercial development there, and proposes largely residential or tourism accommodation. During the last go-round, Walsh’s proposed mix of residential and commercial structures received a very cool reception.

Now, however, he’s sticking with the zoning and there will be little anyone can do to stop it. It is, after all, private land.

And this time, it would seem the decision-making is being taken out of people’s hands. For Walsh, it must come none-too-soon. For everyone else, our chance for compromise on a project we could live with is long gone. – editorial by Steven Heywood