The Parksville Legion is still looking for someone to develop their prime property with them, but they will not be making any money off parking in the meantime.
When the Branch 49 Legion started talking about tearing down the ramshackle house they owned beside the Society of Organized Services’ Thrift Shop (SOS), the SOS expressed interest in leasing the space for parking, explained Legion land use committee chair Don Livingstone.
The Legion owns four lots along Hirst Avenue, including the Legion building and church next door, and has been talking about redeveloping since at least 1985.
The goal is to find a partner to build a new mixed use facility with a Legion, housing and/or commercial space, costing the Legion nothing and maybe even generating revenue.
Legion president Dave Doskoch has called the local branch “land rich and cash poor.”
Livingstone said a feasibility study a few years ago found that Parksville could easily absorb their project plus another one, but things move slowly.
“There are steps the Legion has to go through that other developers don’t,” he said, like getting approval from their membership and the BC and Yukon Command.
They down the old house in the spring in anticipation of eventually building something, hoping to make a few dollars from parking in the interim, but the SOS board decided they were only interested in buying the property and wouldn’t lease it.
The city and Legion met last week about temporary parking options, but the basic requirements — including things like lighting and a gravel surface — are too expensive for the Legion to bother, Livingstone said.
They are still exploring redevelopment options, considering independent senior living or a new form residential leases out of Ontario called a “life lease.”
Meanwhile Parksville city council easily renewed an ongoing encroachment agreement at their last regular meeting. The deal has been in place for 30 years, allowing for the fact that the Legion building encroaches 1.2 metres (four feet) onto city property.