Your timely news report/editorial about city swag prompted me to reflect back to the late ’80s.
Council approved my request (as mayor) for a $25,000 PoPA (Promotion of Parksville) budget item. We used it to increase the 10 city pin allotment per council member to actual need, gifts for visiting dignitaries etc. We sponsored a Visitor of the Week program with the chamber of commerce during the summer, with your newspaper covering it, using those funds and other items pertaining to the promotion of Parksville. Starting in 1988 we hosted the Vancouver Canucks training camp for two years, giving Parksville national and international coverage/promotion, especially with the Russian connection, Pavel Bure and Igor Larianov, becoming Canucks.
Also in 1988, Parksville gained international coverage by hosting the Western Premiers Conference, with a visiting Chinese vice-premier, and Malaspina’s culinary program was in charge of the city dinner for some 200 guests. I asked the chef to create a special/unique dessert for the occasion called the Parksville Slice (a large, round tart with a sweet nut-type filling, covered with a thin layer of chocolate and streaks of caramel) to rival the Nanaimo bar. We even couriered one to BCTV for the 6 p.m. news and received many requests for the recipe.
We also hosted, after trying for years, Front Page Challenge at Ballenas school, raising thousands of dollars for SOS. We used the PoPA fund to cover some of the above costs. It was there, budgeted for, approved and no need for tedious debates.
I applaud this council for their out of the box initiative to “swag” and perhaps it is time again to attract events/episodes such as Rick Mercer (he did one in Campbell River a while ago), 22 minutes, The National (BCTV came here a few years ago) Quirks/Quarks by Bob McDonald, The Current with Anna Marie Tremonti or Murdoch Mystery. Willing to help.