A parklet was installed last week (July 6/7) outside of French Press Cafe on Primrose Street.
Cafe owner Brenda Martin said she learned about the pilot project a couple of weeks ago when she said town staff put a call out to business owners interested in having a parklet outside of their business.
From there, Martin said the spot outside of French Press Cafe was chosen.
In the short time the parklet has been up, Martin said people were already loving the concept.
The idea of a parklet wasn’t new to Martin. She said she approached town staff last year with the concept, but she said finding the funding and someone to build it might have prevented it from being built sooner.
Director of planning Luke Sales said town staff had talked about the concept of a parklet before, but he said that the issue of who would build it and design it kept coming up.
It ended up working out because the parklet was “completely donated” to the town, according to Sales.
Last fall, the Royal Architectural Insititute of Canada (RAIC) invited Vancouver Island high school students to enter its first Architectural Design Competition. The top three designs were constructed by Vancouver Island University’s carpentry program and showcased in the Festival of Architecture in Nanaimo on June 8-11.
Grade 10 students Christopher Dwerryhouse (a Qualicum Beach resident) and Nathaniel Maguire, who spent eight months working on the project, designed the parklet that is now in Qualicum Beach. Their design won third place and the People’s Choice Award.
Dwerryhouse’s mother Liz Jacobson said the original design of the parklet called for curved walls to be made of cast concrete, but due to budget constraints the walls were made with two layers of one-eighth-inch plywood and painted grey to look like concrete. The tables, benches and flooring are made of cedar that was stained to resemble redwood.
“Christopher and Nathaniel had to supply a full set of … drawings as part of the parklet design competition. Not only did they teach themselves a CAD program, but also taught themselves how to accurately draw architectural plan views, elevations and three dimensional coloured rendering,” Jacobson said.
Sales said the parklet will only be in its location for the summer. “It was a good opportunity to test the concept in town . . . and expand the public space on that portion of the downtown area,” said Sales, adding that they will be looking for feedback from the community.
According to the RAIC website, parklets are designed to be “an extension of the sidewalk, the size of a parking spot, that provides a place to stop, sit and interact with others in the city.”
Parklets have been popping up throughout North America with some of the first being built in San Francisco. Since then, parklets have popped up in other cities such as Seattle, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Nanaimo, which got its first parklet last June.
At a May 2 Parksville council meeting, Pamela Bottomley with the Parksville Downtown Business Association, with Kyla Campbell from Realm Food Co., presented the idea for parklet outside of Campbell’s restaurant.