VIU Partners with Parksville on Parks Survey and Community Park Master Plan

Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre was joined by VIU student-researchers on Feb. 17 to officially launch the Community Park Master Plan and Parks Survey project.

March 2, 2017 - 11:45am

VIU and the City of Parksville are working together to come up with plans for parks and trails that look 20 years into the future

If you live in Parksville don’t be surprised to see a wide range of Vancouver Island University (VIU) Master of Community Planning (MCP) students from various VIU disciplines interviewing citizens, conducting research, and mapping the extensive network of 54 parks that fall under the jurisdiction of the City of Parksville.

The park system is exceptional in the city of just over 12,000, particularly the sprawling Parksville Community Park which is a huge tourist draw, but as the community grows and tourism pressure builds the City is seeking a strategy to maintain and improve the parks for sustained use. In an effort to stay in front of the issue, Parksville’s Mayor and Council issued a request for proposals to launch a comprehensive Community Park Master Plan and Parks Survey Project.

A proposal to complete the work was submitted by VIU’s Master of Community Planning Professor Dr. Pam Shaw with support from VIU Sociology Department Chair, Dr. Sylvie Lafreniere. Their proposal was to engage VIU students by having them conduct the research and present the data.

The contract was signed February 17 with Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre, VIU students and City staff in attendance. Lefebvre pointed out that last year the Parksville Community Park was home to more than 400 events, including the annual Parksville Beach Festival that hosts the Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition.  

“The Parksville Community Park is the jewel of our city. We estimate more than 500,000 people enjoyed the park and its services last year and we only expect those numbers to grow,” said Lefebvre. “The resulting damage from that level of use falls on the City to repair, which is why we need a management plan in place which allows us to continue to maintain the park at a level our residents and visitors have come to expect.”

VIU’s proposed Community Park Master Plan involves VIU students tasked with developing a long-term, comprehensive document that provides direction for managing and developing the Community Park over a 20-year period.

“The information that is gathered through this process will allow our citizens to be a part of the planning process, and will guide our City’s decision-makers for decades to come,” said Lefebvre. “Throughout the years, VIU has supported our City and region by offering experiential learning opportunities to students who have contributed to a number of different projects. The work they do is of the highest quality and the energy and enthusiasm they bring benefits us all, which is why we are excited to work with them on this project.”

Sarah Holden, a recent VIU graduate from the Geography Department, is leading the project until May.  She says ultimately, the vision for the Community Park Master Plan is to develop a document that reflects the needs and wants of park users.

“As a student, it isn’t common to have the opportunity to work on a project of this magnitude that has the capacity to reach so many people. I’m just grateful to have extremely competent and knowledgeable coworkers who continue to help me move the project in a direction that will make it successful,” said Holden.  

The deliverables include an asset inventory, comprehensive Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping and analysis, tourist and resident surveys, and an action plan for the parks. VIU students, including exchange students from Kenya and Belize, have already visited all 54 parks and begun compiling data. Stacey Cayetano, from the University of Belize, is a GIS intern at VIU and an integral part of the team.

“What excites me most about the project is to learn about Parksville, its history and culture.  Also to compare how studies in Belize, which is a developing country, differ from a developed country like Canada,” said Cayetano. “With the new knowledge and skills that I will gain from this experience I hope to assist with more projects back home.” 

Dr. Pam Shaw says through partnerships like the one with the City of Parksville, students are able to take what they learn in the classroom into the real world and work on projects that not only give them professional-level skills but the confidence they need to be successful at whatever they choose to do after they graduate.

“The impacts that student-led research projects like this have on the participants is immeasurable, which is why it’s such an honour to have our students so involved,” said Shaw. “We look forward to continuing to build on the relationship we have with the City of Parksville and supporting them not only through this process but with future projects as well.”



Dane Gibson, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6288 | C: 250.618.7296 | E: |  T: @viunews

Tags: Research