The newly-formed St. Andrews Family Park Society said it is in the early stages of planning a multigenerational family park behind the former St. Andrews Lodge building.
President Mary Broulette said many Qualicum Beach families take their children to Parksville’s community park and the group would like to see the town have its own. She added the society is open to working with the St. Andrews Lodge Historical and Cultural Society, which is dedicated to restoring the lodge itself.
“We’re talking about the property and the beach area and that sort of thing — we’re not talking about the building at all. We’re not interfering with that at all,” said Broulette.
The St. Andrews Lodge Historical and Cultural Society was formed in November 2020 by Qualicum Beach residents concerned the building would be demolished.
The family park society’s Facebook page lists a water park, playground equipment, bocce ball, beach volleyball, picnic tables and food trucks as possible amenities for the future park. Broulette said she thinks the society will do a public consultation in cooperation with the town.
The town’s director of planning, Luke Sales, said in an email to Oceanside News he is not familiar with the St. Andrews Family Park Society and the town does not have a consultation plan for the next steps in park planning.
In a social media post, Broulette said the society’s first priority is to fund a children’s water park and has a goal to raise $75,000 for the project. The society is in the process of setting up an online donation process, according to Broulette. Her post also said Pheasant Glen Golf Resort provided the society with its first cheque, a $5,000 donation.
Broulette said she hopes to connect with the Rotary and Lions clubs because those organizations have experience building parks.
“Our thought is more long-term. It’s important that not everything rests on the taxpayer, we’ve already paid out quite a bit of money for this land in the first place,” she said.
The Town of Qualicum Beach recently began work on bocce ball courts and a basketball hoop, which can easily be removed if the town’s long-term plan does not end up including them, according to Sales.
Shirley Culpin, spokesperson for the historical society, said she has not been in contact with the family park society and only came to know of it because of a GoFundMe page for the project.
The page was set up by Sarah Duncan, a candidate in the town’s byelection. She said the page was reported as a duplicate effort and removed. “The society never once said that we were going to replace the Save the Lodge society.”
Duncan said she is not a director for the family park society and said it could be perceived a conflict of interest. “I am not really interested in the Trump-style social media war that’s going on. So I’ve decided to remove myself from that,” she said. The fundraising goal was $100,000 before the page was taken down.
Duncan said she thinks the two societies could work together and she addressed rumours circulating on social media.
“There was no attempt to use a GoFundMe to fund my campaign,” she said. “I find that to be quite offensive, that people would think I would try to do that. I’m following the rules just like everybody else is.” Duncan said she will continue to work with the society, but will not be a director or be part of it from a legal standpoint.
*Edited to correct Shirley Culpin’s title. Shirley Culpin is the spokesperson, not president of the St. Andrews Lodge Historical and Cultural Society.