In addition to my duties here at the chamber of commerce, I am also a member of The Parksville Historical Society and based on some recent conversations with a variety of concerned citizens, it wouldn’t hurt to take a quick look at some Parksville history.
1917 — The Island Hall was opened by Winifred Philpott and Joan Foster on March 31, Good Friday. The population of Parksville was 1,000.
1923 — The community park property was purchased by a group of interested local residents who formed the Parksville District Community Society.
1947 — Mary Sutherland and Eileen Allwood bought the Island Hall Hotel (current site of the Beach Club and Parksville Beach Resort) and would run it for the next 16 years.
In 1971 the population of Parksville was 2,100.
In 1982 the population of Parksville was just over 5,000.
In 2000 it was just over 10,000 and today it is just shy of 12,000.
History is important to ensure that current decisions are made in the appropriate context and also to ensure credibility when putting forth concepts and ideas.
Statements about unmanageable growth as you can see by the population change in the past 10 years measured against growth in the previous 10 years are untrue.
Parksville experienced enormous growth in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, however in the current decade it has been a measly two per cent per year.
Tourism has been present since the early 1900s but the mainstay of the economy until recently was logging, fishing and farming.
In my short tenure in Parksville, 1982 to present, I have seen many changes; the Island Hall is gone, as is the movie theatre, pool hall and businesses on 19A above the Parksville Beach Resort.
We live in a fabulous community with a fantastic history. Now is not the time to limit the vision enjoyed by our community forefathers as they took enormous risks to set a foundation for future generations. The act of securing the Community Park land to ensure that the public would always have access to the best beach on Vancouver Island, and perhaps the west coast, showed incredible foresight and was a tremendous gift. The establishment of a tourist destination to share that asset with the world was an idea ahead of its time that will continue to bear fruit going forward.
As we ponder the future of our community, I want to challenge all residents and businesses to be bold like our forefathers and look for ideas and concepts that will carry a wonderful city and community to be great; to continue to do what we do well and look for opportunities to add greatness to what we do.
Kim Burden is the manager of the Parksville and District chamber of Commerce.