The Parksville Community Centre, 132 Jensen Ave East, is missing several key pieces of kitchen equipment, which prevents PASS/Woodwinds students from proceeding with their cooking class. (Mandy Moraes photo)

Parksville students frozen out of the kitchen, collateral damage in community centre dispute

With kitchen equipment disconnected or missing, cooking program for Parksville students in limbo

A group of Parksville area alternate school students are unable to proceed with their foods program until essential kitchen equipment is returned or replaced.

The PASS/Woodwinds students reportedly arrived at the Parksville Community Centre (PCC) on Dec. 16, to find several pieces of kitchen equipment either disconnected or missing — part of a Parksville Community Centre Society (PCCS) dispute with the city.

According to Parksville Mayor Ed Mayne, the operating agreement the city had with PCCS “did not give them ownership of any assets unless they can prove they directly paid for them.” This statement was based on a report which stated all PCC assets belong to the community centre itself, and not the society.

The City of Parksville is now considering legal action after the removal of the equipment.

The city’s chief administrative officer, Keeva Kehler, wrote a report that read “staff have reason to believe the PCCS was aware of the city’s intent to continue this use for the students as it was discussed between the solicitors in December.”

READ MORE: City of Parksville offers update on closure of community centre

In her report, it noted that the grill/stove, sanitizing dishwasher and racks, chest freezer, microwave, prep tables, freezer trays and all accessories were removed. As a result, the use agreement between SD69 and the city can no longer be implemented.

The student foods program on Dec. 16 had apparently been an important year-end event where they prepared holiday meals for themselves and their families.

Kehler said the program’s teacher was able to, with some difficulty, adapt his plan and proceed with a more limited menu.

Coun. Adam Fras suggested council send a letter to PCCS and allow a week for their response.

As per Kehler’s report, it would take at least two to three weeks from the date of purchase for new equipment to arrive. This timeline is on top of the week to wait for the PCCS to respond, as well as any installation and inspection times required before the kitchen is considered safe and ready to use.

READ MORE: Parksville Community Centre Society asks city to keep centre open

Coun. Doug O’Brien said he believes the one-week delay is reasonable but that it’s still “unfortunate for the kids.”

“They’re caught in this whole thing, and this is not what, as adults, we should allow to happen. But here we are.”

The communications manager with the city, Deb Tardiff, said the letter was sent to PCCS on Jan. 20, which asks for a response no later than Jan. 29.

As of Monday, Jan. 25, PCCS president Holly Heppner told the PQB News the society has not received a letter from the city, and that “90 per cent” of what was stated in the report was inaccurate.

School District 69 (Qualicum) has a lease agreement with the city for use of the commercial kitchen. Dr. Keven Elder, superintendent of SD69, said he would like to have the PASS/Woodwinds foods program start as soon possible, as soon as the physical changes at the community centre have been addressed. He said, given the current circumstance, he is unsure when the program will proceed.

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