Society says ‘city has used the vulnerable youths of Pass-Woodwinds as pawns,’ disputes city’s claim of wrongful community centre equipment removal

The Parksville Community Centre Society (PCCS) has disputed the city’s claim that it was wrong to remove kitchen equipment from the community centre. || Photos from Parksville Council's Jan. 18 meeting agenda
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The Parksville Community Centre Society (PCCS) has disputed the city’s claim that it was wrong to remove kitchen equipment from the community centre.

President Holly Heppner said the equipment does not belong to the city. She added the PCCS was not informed about the continuation of the agreement between the city and Pass-Woodwinds Alternate School to allow students to use the centre’s kitchen for a cooking class.

“We feel it was careless and irresponsible of the City of Parksville and staff to offer equipment which does not belong to the City of Parksville,” said Heppner, in an email to Oceanside News. “It is very unfortunate the city has used the students and staff of Pass-Woodwinds as a way of making the PCCS look bad in the eyes of our community.”

The city ran two public notices in December, announcing its intent to enter an agreement with the school district to allow the students to continue using the kitchen for their home economics class.

Mayor Ed Mayne said the equipment belongs to the city. The PCCS received correspondence from the city’s legal counsel on Jan. 27, requesting the equipment be returned, according to Heppner.

The equipment’s removal caused an issue when PASS-Woodwinds students arrived to find the dishwasher missing on Dec. 16., according to Keeva Kehler, the city’s chief administrative officer. She added utensils, freezer racks and an ice machine were also removed.

Heppner said the society did not receive a complaint from the teacher about the missing dishwasher.

“When the class and teacher came into to use the Rotary kitchen, they would have to wash a pot they used in the kitchen sink with dish soap provided. All other equipment was available to cook their traditional turkey dinner,” said Heppner.

City staff met with the society on Dec. 31 to walk through the building, prior to the end of the contract and did not make any comments of concern at that time, according to Heppner. She added the teacher should have canceled the class if he felt the kitchen did not meet food safety standards.

“During our move between Dec. 15 to Dec. 31 the PCCS was under the watchful eyes of the city staff,” she said.

The PCCS’s maintenance person called an electric company to disconnect the kitchen’s dishwasher, after it was discovered a fuse was shorting out and causing it to overheat, according to Heppner. 

She added the maintenance person called a gas technician to disconnect the kitchen’s gas stove and was advised that a technician was not required due to the type of connection. 

“The PCCS feel the city has used the vulnerable youths of Pass-Woodwinds as pawns to discredit the PCCS,” said Heppner. 

The PCCS contract with the city expired on Dec. 31. The city said it intends to work with the Boys and Girls Club of Central Vancouver Island (BGCCVI) to lease the building in the future. 

The city and the BGCCVI have signed a letter of intent to prepare a joint grant application to renovate the facility. The terms of use for the PCC have not yet been finalized.

*This story has been updated to include that the city ran public notices announcing its intent to enter an agreement with the school district to allow students to continue using the kitchen for their home economics class.

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