WRITTEN BY BILL McQUARRIE
Hands went up in the air and important decisions were made.
Port McNeill council voted at its April 13 meeting to move ahead with the playground proposal put forward by the Waterfront Community Playgroup Project committee.
Coun. Ann-Marie Baron, acknowledging that there has been some confusion as to what the group was actually proposing, sought clarification from the playgroup committee at a joint meeting held the previous week with the Harbour Advisory Group (HAG).
Summarizing that meeting, Baron stated that in order to accommodate the three pieces of equipment needed for the playground component, a 30×30 foot space of parkland would be required.
Site locations able to accommodate those needs included: The area where the WFP guesthouse was once located: An area above Parking Lot B and: The green space beyond the ferry at the end of the harbour path on Beach Drive.
No information was provided on space requirements for the separate adult fitness site.
According to Baron, HAG advised everyone that there was nothing within the proposal that was contrary to the park’s current use or would negatively impact future planning.
However, she went on to explain that HAG will need additional location assessments from the playgroup committee to ensure that drainage, lighting, landscaping and division/barrier plans between green space and the waterfront are properly addressed at each of those possible locations.
Based on that meeting, HAG advised council it was supportive of the playgroup’s vision for the harbour.
Given the level of community discussion and concerns around this project, Mayor Gaby Wickstrom felt it would be appropriate to appoint a select committee to monitor every step along the way and report back to and seek approval of council on all aspects of the project.
Citing unresolved concerns over safety, parking, displaced [current] users and the continued lack of drawings and plans, Coun. Ryan Mitchell felt there was not enough information at this time to support the proposal.
Pointing to the work done by council in 2018 to develop an overall set of strategic priorities, Coun. Derek Koel said while he was, “probably in favour” of the concept, he would vote against it because it was, “not part of our strategic priorities.”
Council moved, “To approve and manage the [funding] application for the Canada Healthy Communities Grant and direct staff to work with the waterfront group in completing and submitting the application.”
In favour of the motion were Wickstrom, Baron and Coun. Shelley Downey. Opposed were Koel and Mitchell.
A concurrent motion to form a select committee to oversee the proposed project was brought forward and received with unanimous approval.
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