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LETTER: Community centre part of city’s civic hub

Mayor Ed Mayne and city councillors have decided Parksville doesn’t need a community centre and will not provide operating funds for the centre in 2021.

If this sounds familiar it’s because they tried to do the same thing in 2019 but when local groups objected and no new tenant could be found they scrapped the idea.

This year the city didn’t give the community a chance to have input and justified its decision based on its hope “…to use that building for childcare through the Boys and Girls Club of Central Vancouver Island (BGCCVI).”

The key word is hope because it is counting on getting a grant from the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund. If successful the grant will be used “to do some substantial renovations to the inside of the building.”

What is the plan if they don’t get the grant? Highly unlikely the Boys and Girls club will have the money for “substantial renovations”.

If the city doesn’t receive the grant the building will sit empty.

What evidence is there that Parksville has such a severe shortage of day care spaces that it needs to take over this entire facility?

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The centre’s Seaside Room alone is 7,100 square feet. It can seat up to 550 people theatre style and its other rooms combined seat a total of 250. Have city staff done any research on community needs to support a decision to take all of this space for a daycare?

Why is it that up until 2018, when the new council and mayor were elected, previous city elected officials supported the centre going back to 1996, when the city made a commitment to build it at a cost of $1.28 million. Were those previous councils wrong to build a community centre and make it part of the city’s civic hub?

The heart of any community is its volunteers and non-profit groups. How can they flourish without meeting space? What about the concerts, craft fairs, art exhibits, space for local dialogue on important issues? We pay taxes for physical and social infrastructure.

I hope Parksville voters will take the gutting of this vital community space under “consideration” when they vote for a new mayor and council in 2022.

Susan McAlevy

Parksville

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