EDITORIAL: Election lands

Elections should be about fresh ideas. Will we get any of that during the municipal elections this November?

The ground for fresh ideas is certainly fertile, at least in Parksville. Literally.

There is a parcel of high-profile, city-owned land that should provoke ideas and debate. It may be an important piece in the future of the city.

The city-owned land on Jensen Avenue across the Alberni Highway from the fire hall is a jewel. There were some refreshing discussions and debates about its future at a council meeting on Monday night.

It was difficult to take anything Coun. Bill Neufeld said about the property seriously after he likened it to Stanley Park in Vancouver. However, if one was able to wade through his hyperbolic nonsense, one could hear him present a vision, albeit grandiose and expensive, for the land.

Council's advisory committee put recommendations in front of the politicians Monday night, calling for this gateway to the city to be developed as an urban space and be tagged as "the city's heart and soul." The recommendations suggested the site balance green space with fountains, paths, benches, shelter and lighting. Neufeld went further, making suggestions that could, if pushed through, cost taxpayers many dollars.

In the end, council rejected the suggestions from the advisory committee (with committee chair Coun. Peter Morrison and Neufeld the dissenters) and wisely asked staff, and the public, to come up with some options for the land.

Some of the councillors, particularly Marc Lefebvre, suggested this will likely be an election issue.

Sadly, Qualicum Beach seems too suffocated by camps, personal attacks and battling ideologies to actually debate forward-looking, on-the-ground issues, although the camps will tell you their fights are all about tangible subjects.

That might be more believable if the rhetoric from the camps didn't devolve into personal attacks at every opportunity.

We're hopeful that will change in the five months before the civic elections. The provincial election last year provided enough ideological debate without local substance to last us a few years.

— Editorial by John Harding

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