EDITORIAL: Pay to play at Community Park?

Nearly a century ago, a forward-looking group of pioneers recognized the Parksville beachfront was an asset worth protecting for future generations, and put their money and labour into securing and preserving it as a community park.

Those who oppose encroachment of development in the park today may rest easy, following the release this week of a draft master park plan created by consultants from Vancouver Island University.

The 20-year plan, presented to Parksville’s city council during its regular meeting Monday, recommends some notable changes, including a few certain to generate controversy in the community. But the most notable building project in the 139-page document is not a construction, but a demolition, with the Parksville Curling Club potentially on the chopping block if a new curling facility can be built in another location.

The public gets its chance to review the draft plan on Oct. 28, when the VIU consultants and city staff host an open house at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre, and we encourage everyone to take a look and have their say.

Among the 60-plus recommendations in the draft plan are the suggestion of a new name for the park; establishing a meaningful recognition of First Nations; and improving park and beach access for the mobility-challenged.

As for infrastructure, the draft plan suggests the possibility of a public square with formalized food service and seating to replace or supplement the food trucks that currently serve park visitors; a maintenance/storage shed in the treed area near the picnic shelter; and connecting the end of Beachfront Drive to the park entrance.

These concepts were developed in hundreds of hours of interviews with both local residents and tourists, as well as picnic table meetings and “World Café” events, over the course of nine months.

It’s unclear how many of those people volunteered to contribute user fees, but that is one of the recommendations of the draft plan sure to get a spirited response. Shaw argued that the park is being “loved to death” and fees would help offset infrastructure and maintenance costs.

Mayor Marc Lefebvre noted the park’s founders raised and spent what was then a considerable sum to purchase the park property, and residents have supported it with their tax dollars ever since.

Has the time come for the park’s users to ante up an additional share?

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News

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