Opinion: Decision proof of ability for community to grow

Berwick project a positive for the city and community as a whole

News: Berwick retirement community construction to go ahead in Parksville; project completion set for spring or summer of 2022.

Views: A positive for the city and community as a whole.

Anytime a $50M-plus project, which should provide a sizable number of local jobs, is announced, it can be seen as good news.

In this case, it is especially symbolic.

You’ll note from our front-page story, groundbreaking of Berwick Parksville is expected to take place this spring.

It’s particularly noteworthy in this case, since the project was initially cancelled last summer because of its proximity to Orca Place, the much-discussed and oft-controversial supportive housing project.

“Through our experience, looking at other (supportive housing) projects of a similar nature, it has an effect on the surrounding neighbourhood, and typically the neighbourhood has some challenges that are not conducive to seniors or children,” officials said at the time.

READ MORE: Berwick Qualicum Beach officially open

Fast forward to Thursday, when Berwick officials said they were excited to announce the six-storey senior’s residence, across the street from Orca Place, will now go forward.

“The ongoing, collaborative discussions with the City of Parksville about their bright and optimistic vision for their community’s future coupled with the fact that Orca Place Supportive Housing has positively managed the neighbouring housing project has further validated Berwick’s decision to move forward with building a community in Parksville,” said Berwick CEO Chris Denford.

That’s outstanding, on a variety of levels.

While there will always be criticism (it’s what people do) and endless online comments panning any development and the motivations behind their decisions, the fact this represents almost a complete 180 from a year ago says a lot.

It says Berwick officials kept an open mind. It also says even more about Orca Place, its management and its residents. Though the project was treated in some corners as a terrifying boogeyman, it has thus far been a success story.

Mayor Ed Mayne said council is happy Berwick is now going forward on the project, and the mayor was bang on in saying that he views the as city a safe and beautiful place to retire.

It is both of those things. Like any community, issues remain to be resolved in terms of crime and safety. But at times, hyperbole can creep in, especially with every incident breathlessly discussed on social media.

“Parksville is currently seeing significant development, either completed or well underway that includes new rental buildings which will help to fill housing needs. We are pleased to welcome Berwick to Parksville,” said Mayne.

We concur.

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