On Sunday afternoon, October 19, nearly 200 people attended the Millennium Park Rally at Willingdon Beach to save the beach trail and McFall Creek corridor. Wunderkind Madeleine Hocking played airs on her violin as people arrived. The youngster who has been busking for Millennium Park throughout the community has already earned over $400 which apparently she is determined to donate to the Millennium Park Fund at a strategic moment.
The Millennium Park Committee welcomed the crowd, and Chief Councilor Clint Williams of the Sliammon First Nation declared support for the establishment of the park that will protect many culturally significant sites. Next spoke the candidates for mayor, followed by those for council. Sixteen of the 22 candidates running in the City of Powell River election attended and spoke to the Millennium Park referendum question. The other six did not attend because of prior commitments, or because they were still making up their minds.
Incumbent Mayor Stewart Alsgard, Michael Ashworth, Heinz Becker, and Les Magura declared their support for the referendum bylaw to acquire Millennium Park for $1.43 million. Paddy Goggins had a different point of view, despite wearing one of the coveted "Vote yes for Millennium Park" buttons on his tie. Jeffrey Renn and Derry Simpson were not present. Councilor hopefuls Rhonda Alton, William Ashworth (represented by his wife Jennifer), Debbie Dee, Doug Flesher, Dave Formosa, Maggie Hathaway, Myrna Leishman, Chris McNaughton, Jim Palm, Aaron Pinch, and Sandi Tremblay all spoke in favour of voting for Millennium Park. Not present, or represented at the rally, were Tony Colton, Gordon Crawford, David Dickson, and Troy Marshall. Guitarist/singer Chris King roused the crowd with the Millennium Park song, and continued to entertain with tunes as supporters tucked into the huge Millennium Park Rally cake baked for the occasion. The rally capped off with some people opting to walk up McFall Creek and the Cut Connector to see what variable retention actually looks like. Many others walked back on the beach trail to find signs indicating private property, and Vote Yes for Millennium Park. Only 300 meters of the Willingdon Beach trail is within the existing park. Another 1,000 meters of the trail lie within the private lands that we aspire to acquire through a solid yes vote on November 15.
We thank everybody for their support, and their willingness to raise the awareness of those who may think that the park is already a done deal, or that it will be a park without having to do anything because it's always been a greenspace used by the community. This is a one-time opportunity which we must grasp, or the property will be put on the market and snapped up by some developer or another. The waterfront alone is worth several millions and is an attractive property for condominiums, or estates whose sale would take care of PRSC's mortgage. It is critical at this time, that we undertake everything we can to ensure this space is a park for all time. Please make your family, friends and neighbours aware of the importance of a yes vote. A mere $12.75 a year will accomplish the possible. A hundred years from now our great grandchildren will say, "They voted this park into being." Thank you for your generosity and your help.