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Businesses move forward after devastating Parksville Heritage Centre fire

One year since Nov. 9 fire destroyed 6 Parksville businesses
The site of a massive fire at the Parksville Heritage Centre, one year later. (Michael Briones photo)

One year after a devastating fire at the Parksville Heritage Centre, several businesses are moving forward as best they can.

The Nov. 9, 2022 fire destroyed the British Bobby Restaurant, the Heritage Animal Hospital, La Belle Parksville, NextGen Automation, Upward Refillery and the Parksville Qualicum Beach News/Vancouver Island Free Daily office.

Heritage Vet Service has remained connected to its clients by doing house calls during the past year or so. Co-owners Dr. Heather Hagen and Adriane Harper are going through the regulatory process and hope to announce a grand reopening in the near future.

“I’m happy to be able to say that we’re within probably a couple of weeks of reopening at our new location,” Hagen said.

Once in their new home at Shelly Square in Parksville, the plan is to revert back to the old name of Heritage Animal Hospital.

The house calls have been a challenge at times, without access to the full range of instruments, equipment and infrastructure, Hagen said, but there are also positive aspects.

“It’s been really neat to see the animals in their home environment,” she said. “A lot of them are more comfortable, a lot less stressed.”

The Heritage Vet Service house calls have included vaccines, treatment for minor cuts, scratches and fractures, and wellness care. More complicated or urgent concerns are referred to other clinics for now.

READ MORE: WOLF: Devastation lingers, one year after blaze destroys businesses

It’s also been a challenging year for the co-owners of La Belle and Serious Coffee.

La Belle was completely destroyed by the fire and Serious Coffee was not permitted to set up their 40-seat patio area over the summer.

“They wouldn’t let us put out chairs because of that big fence,” said Dawn Deschamps, co-owner of both businesses with Johnathan Pope. “Now we have no outdoor seats at all. Our business was down quite a bit because of that.”

They just recently received their insurance settlement for LaBelle.

“We’re looking at something for January, but we haven’t decided,” Deschamps said.

The future of the site is up in the air — no development permit applications have been made, according to the City of Parksville.

Deschamps said she’s not sure if the patio will be back next summer.

“They don’t inform us of what’s going on. We don’t have a lot of knowledge,” she said. “We just come to work one day and ‘oh look, there’s workers’ — or there’s nothing.”

It’s been a long journey, Hagen said, but Heritage Vet Service will update its clients via email and its website once dates are confirmed.

“I’ll be very happy just to reopen and get back to doing our normal thing,” said Hagen, who added they are grateful for the community’s support and their clients’ patience. “I know this has been a challenging year for them. It’s been challenging for us.”

PQB News was unable to reach the British Bobby owners before press time.

The News relocated to a new office at 174 Corfield St., No. 203, in March.

“The fire was devastating, often in unexpected ways, and I empathize with the other businesses that were impacted. It has been a very difficult year and we are so grateful for the support and understanding of the community,” said publisher Teresa Bird.

“I am also grateful to my staff who never wavered in their determination to make sure the paper was published every week. They kept their good humour despite all the challenges.”

It took the Parksville Fire Department, along with assistance from Qualicum Beach, Errington, Nanoose, Coombs-Hilliers and Dashwood departments, all night to completely douse the massive blaze the evening of Nov. 9 and early morning hours of Nov. 10.

Parksville Fire Department does not consider the fire suspicious.

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