EDITORIAL: Parksville will look at adding city staff to deal with growth

The decisions on the 2017 budget will have to be made before real populations numbers are known

It was in the preamble of a staff report, the executive summary, but it jumped off the page.

The City of Parksville’s chief executive officer, Debbie Comis, was providing city council Monday night with a heads-up. She was warning them (our word, not hers) that requests for more staff will be in front of council when it’s time to talk about the 2017 budget, a time that will be upon us quickly.

Some of these positions were already slated to come on board in 2017. They were in the five-year financial plan and include an assistant for the fire department (full time), bumping the emergency program co-ordinator to full time from basically two days a week and the addition of an information technology co-op student.

Comis is also going to ask council to move forward to 2017 (from the 2018 original budget plan) the addition of a full-time human resources co-ordinator. She would also like the city to add a full-time administrative support position, a full-time (temporary) occupational health and safety co-op student and one more day a week (increasing to three) for a part-time finance position.

In total, this could represent an increase in wages from 2016 to 2017 of more than $300,000 to a wage bill that was about $5.3 million (2015).

In her report, Comis said “the City of Parksville continues to grow and develop. Construction is at an all-time high; building permit requests are breaking records.”

Comis said there were more than 300 community park events this summer, bylaw enforcement complaints continue to rise, emergency preparedness planning demands are increasing and senior governments are asking for much more reporting these days.

“This all translates into increased service demands and if we are to meet those demands and maintain our current service levels, we will be asking council to consider additional staff in the 2017 budget process,” Comis wrote.

What’s next, a subway system? Has Parksville really grown that much? Unfortunately, we aren’t going to get a reliable number related to population until next year, long after budget decisions for 2017 have been made. That’s when the first dribs and drabs of information from this year’s federal census will be released.

The latest population figure we can find for the City of Parksville comes from B.C. Statistics 2014 estimates: 12,227. The way Comis and others are talking, perhaps we should not be surprised if more than 14,000 people now call Parksville home.

That’s quite a leap from 35 years ago when Parksville became a city with a population of 5,299.

— Editorial by John Harding