A sentence should be added to the oaths of office for Parksville’s mayor and city councillors:
I promise not to mess with Community Park.
If there’s something more important than the beach and park to the past, present and future of the city, we’re not sure what that might be.
There will always be the need for upgrades and improvements. But timing is everything.
Tuesday afternoon was a typical, beautiful day in Community Park. The sun was shining, the warmth of spring trying to make a stand.
Children were enjoying the playground, parents watching and chatting on the surrounding benches. A few metres away, the boardwalk was busy with walkers, lovers and dogs, while the sea shimmered a deep blue as the tide receded from the shoreline.
Steps from the playground, and beside the concession/washroom building, were plots of land bordered by that plastic, orange, stay-out-of-here fencing, presumably where the new mobile food vendors are going to set up.
Right in front of the blue doors where a smiley seller used to offer ice cream and other items, a busker played music that fit with a sunny theme. Behind him, the blue doors were shuttered.
Right now, there are no food options in Community Park. The concession that served the park so well for many years is closed.
Depending on what city council did last night, the best-case scenario for the beginning of food service in the park is more than three weeks away. If council agrees to what was recommended by staff, there could be one food truck operating in the park, perhaps by May 1. The choosing, awarding and opening of a second mobile food operation could be months away.
The washroom/changeroom situation is worse. The building that served that purpose for many years will soon close for renovations that are going to cost more than $300,000 and aren’t likely to be completed until the end of June, perhaps hours before thousands crowd the park for what’s become one of the best Canada Day parties in the country.
Any future council, along with staff, should think more about the timing of what they are doing in the park. This project, from a timing standpoint, was poorly conceived. October through March works well as a construction window for almost everything that needs to be done in this gem of a public space. — Editorial by John Harding