EDITORIAL: Beach zoning frustrations

It's not like the owner of this high-profile, boarded-up resort is holding out for big bucks

The City of Parksville has no shortage of important issues facing it right now — the mayor and city councillors have full plates, to be sure.

What to do with tent cities if they crop up this summer. The vacant land next to city hall. The massive water treatment project. Bylaw enforcement. Just to name a few.

One of the issues the city must resolve is front-and-centre every day. More than 17,000 vehicles a day pass by the boarded-up Parksville Beach Resort on what has to be one of the most attractive properties on Vancouver Island, fronting what has been called Canada’s best beach.

It’s easy to point the finger at the property owners, Bernie Walsh and his brothers, and say “do something.” Some might suggest greed is in the way. They would be mistaken.

You could buy the seven-acre property right now for $5 million, which is exactly what Walsh paid for the property 12 years ago. So, it’s not like they are holding out with a ridiculous asking price.

Times change. Economies change. What a bank will, and will not, finance changes with the times and the economy.

The owners have had a few people kick the tires on the property. These people do their homework and they all come to the same conclusion — there is no viable business model for the property with its current zoning.

That puts the onus squarely on the city. Or, more accurately, city council. They cannot in good conscience decry the look of the place, the lack of use on such a prime property right in the downtown/beach core. It is in their hands to change the game.

It is not reasonable to force the Walshs, or anyone for that matter, to invest and build an operation that has no chance to succeed. The current zoning and Official Community Plan designation is behind the times, as evidenced by the lack of a sale.

If residents are opposed to changes to the zoning or OCP, they should accept that the Parksville Beach Resort will remain a boarded-up, graffiti-laden eyesore for years to come, a building that will attract squatters and vermin and continue to restrict public access to a spectacular piece of property.

Recent discussions between the mayor and Walsh lead us to believe there may be some room for compromise on both sides. That’s positive news.

— Editorial by John Harding

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