EDITORIAL: Jensen Avenue extension — does Parksville city council really want to go there?

City council will hold a special meeting about the contentious subject on March 14

Parksville city council is about to open an old wound — the Jensen Avenue extension debate. Whether this just creates more pain, or heals all, remains to be seen.

The decision has ramifications for people throughout the region. It could have a real effect on the movement of goods and services from Nanoose Bay through Deep Bay. It could have an impact on jobs and the quality of life for people in all of the communities that make up the Parksville Qualicum Beach region.

The city owns the land at the end of Jensen at Corfield Street, right through to McVickers. There have been plans, and/or discussions, about extending Jensen to McVickers for more than a decade. Some say the opposition to this plan is what created the Parksville Residents’ Association, a now-dormant group that may be resurrected, depending on what happens in the next few weeks.

At the end of a meeting last week — before these city councillors do what they do every single meeting and go behind closed doors for real debate and discussion without the prying media and taxpayers to worry about — a motion was quickly and quietly passed to hold a special council meeting March 14.

At that meeting, consultants (the Boulevard Transportation Group of Victoria) will provide a presentation to council, presumably about the extension and traffic flow in and around Parksville. We say presumably because there is no supporting documentation about this meeting. It all has a very clandestine feel and one could assume the city — politicians and staff — remember the furore last time this issue reared its head and would rather do this in a vacuum.

In essence, this was about creating a ring road for Parksville. Say you were coming from the resorts area and were headed to Qualicum Beach. If this extension was in place, you could turn left off the Island Highway at McVickers, right onto Jensen and then go down McMillan and back to the Island Highway.

It’s a ridiculous idea on its own. It’s not like we have traffic-jam issues here. It makes some sense, however, if that portion of Island Highway between McVickers and McMillan was converted into a one-lane, one-way, 30 km-h stroll of a roadway with angled parking, wider sidewalks with room for cafés and outdoor tables, etc. It was thought to be a way to better link the downtown core with the world-famous beach and park.

The last council wanted nothing to do with this discussion. This one apparently does. Careful what you wish for.

— Editorial by John Harding

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