The city will sign a contract with Golder-WSP to conduct a preliminary site assessment of a location at the end of Despard Avenue for the proposed Parksville Aquatic and Recreation Centre.
Phase One of the assessment will cost $125,000 and will include ecological assessments, a hydrogeological assessment, a geotechnical assessment, a civil engineering assessment and a land analysis report. Golder-WSP is an affiliate branch of WSP Canada and provides specialized hydrogeological and environmental expertise.
Coun. Doug O’Brien said at council’s May 17 meeting he is opposed to moving the project forward before carrying out public consultation regarding six possible sites identified by the city.
“If the public come back and say they don’t want it there, we’re going to spend $125,000 in advance of actually determining for sure that this site is going to be Springwood/Despard,” O’Brien said.
Council also authorized the city to hire HDR Architecture Associates to carry out the public consultation and engagement strategy for the proposed centre.
O’Brien said he is pleased the public consultation phase will begin soon, but concerned about the feedback so far on Let’s Talk Parksville — the city’s online public engagement forum. He said around 75 per cent of comments on the forum were not in favour of the site.
Coun. Al Greir said he is ‘disturbed’ with misinformation about the location and the facility circulating online, including people who believe the area is a wetland.
“Some of it might come from this council, I don’t know. But I think it should stop,” Greir said.
“As leaders of the community, we have to bring forth a positive attitude and let the chips fall where they may.” He added the city already owns the land at the proposed Despard site.
The public consultation and technical studies will begin in the next two weeks, according to Deb Tardiff, the city’s manager of communications.
Besides the location at the end of Despard Avenue, potential sites at Parksville Community Park, Island Highway and Pym Street, Wembley Mall, Parksville Elementary School and Tuan Road are under consideration.
Last month, council voted to begin forming an expert advisory committee for the proposed aquatic and recreation centre. The Advisory Technical Working Group (ATWG) is meant to provide neutral expert advice on studies and consultant reports, according to the city.
It will be made up of experts from fields including geotechnical engineering, civil engineering, hydrogeology, environmental biology, traffic engineering, architectural design, construction, project management, public communications, financial management and land use planning, the city said.