EDITORIAL: Land-use issues on Parksville’s oceanfront

The new city council will have some important and interesting decisions to make

It’s easy to blame the government.

Often that criticism is unwarranted, especially when it comes to land-use issues for municipalities.

Some locals like to point at a couple of high-profile, oceanside properties in Parksville and yell at city hall, pleading for changes, access, vision or some kind of alteration to the current land use.

There are, however, two stumbling blocks, a couple of fundamental issues we should hold dear and protect at all costs: property-owner rights and the law.

Take Surfside RV Park, for example. When it was brought into the city boundaries more than 20 years ago, it carried with it some zoning bylaw language from the Regional District of Nanaimo. Yes, it was ambiguous language, but the owners have the right to continue operating the way they always have, a grandfather situation if you will.

If the owners stop operating as they have, or they come to the city asking for changes, the city then has the right to insist the land fall under its zoning bylaws, its Official Community Plan designation for that property.

Until that time, Surfside can continue to operate its park as it has for many years. It makes no sense — rights-wise or legally — for the city to force the issue.

The Parksville Beach Resort — the boarded-up eyesore in a high-profile location beside The Beach Club — is a different kettle of fish, but it shares the same owner-rights and legal fundamentals.

The owner of that property has been before council in the past with proposals. For one reason or another, the proposals weren’t accepted or did not go forward.

Contrary to what some believe, permanent residences are allowed on property zoned tourism/commercial. In fact, pretty much anything is possible if a proponent takes his proposal directly to council, including OCP and zoning changes.

This is where it gets a little dicey and the ball shifts from staff responsibility to the political sphere. Property owners should be allowed to propose projects on the land they own. They should be afforded fair hearing. The new council that takes over later next month needs to be open to all possibilities, not only for the two parcels of aforementioned land, but for all chunks of dirt in the city. However, we are suggesting today the new council will have failed the city and its taxpayers if it cannot produce a deal to do something with the owner to improve the use of Parksville Beach Resort’s high-profile oceanfront property.

— Editorial by John Harding