Parksville’s Community Park may one day need to add user fees — and subtract its curling rink.
That was the message of a consulting team from Vancouver Island University, which delivered its draft Community Park Master Plan to Parksville’s city council during its regular meeting Monday, Oct. 2.
“Many other municipalities have moved to user fees, where there is some relationship between asset management and users of the park,” said Pam Shaw, director of VIU’s community planning degree program and head of a nine-month project that drew in more than 100 students. “This is a park that’s being loved to death.”
The 139-page document includes more than 60 recommendations. It will next go before the public in an open house scheduled for Oct. 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre.
Shaw was joined by student researchers Sarah Holden and Lauren Shaw in Monday’s council presentation. They shared eight “top priority” recommendations from the draft master plan, as well as short-, medium- and long-term visions for the city’s iconic beachfront park.
The priorities, in addition to the user fees and relocation of the aging Parksville Curling Club, included ensuring meaningful recognition of First Nations in the park and renaming the park — two goals which could eventually overlap.
“In our survey we constantly spoke to people who would say, ‘What community park?’” Pam Shaw said. “We would tell them, and they’d say things like, ‘Oh, the beachfront park’ or “Oh, the waterfront park.’
“Then they’d ask, ‘Aren’t all of Parksville’s parks community parks?’ There are all kinds of ideas, and it feels like it might be a time to consider a proper noun name for community park.”
Other priority recommendations include improving accessibility to the waterfront and beach, development of a multi-use public square with more formalized food services and a seating area; redeveloping the existing entrance to the park and connecting Beachfront Drive from the Arbutus Point turnaround to the entrance behind the curling club; and establishing a “contextual connection” — if not an actual trail — between the park and Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park.
The consultants recommended the city work with the Regional District of Nanaimo and members of Parksville Curling Club to investigate a new site and develop a new curling facility outside the park.
“Then this building could be demolished and the land used for uses more appropriate for the park,” Pam Shaw said.
Just don’t look for pickleball courts on the location.
Representatives of the OPC Oceanside Pickleball Club had addressed council during its previous meeting Sept. 18, to lobby for eight dedicated pickleball clubs, and councillors told them more clarification might be forthcoming from the delivery of the draft master plan.
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But while acknowledging the explosive growth and popularity of pickleball across North America, Pam Shaw said the Community Park was not the optimum location for city courts.
“We are recommending Parksville, Qualicum Beach and the Regional District of Nanaimo need to take a serious look at the expansion of pickleball in the region,” she said. “But not in the waterfront park. Those facilities could be in other areas in the mid-Island.”
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