Skip to content

PQB community excited to see Ballenas track project off and running

Groundbreaking ceremony launches creation of 6-lane all-season track
The old cinder track is being unearthed and levelled to make way for the installation of a six-lane, all-season training track at Ballenas Secondary School. (Michael Briones photo)

The Ballenas track upgrade project is underway in Parksville after being initiated almost 30 years ago.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the old cinder track on Wednesday, May 22, attended by representatives from the Qualicum School District, City of Parksville, Town of Qualicum Beach, Regional District of Nanaimo as well as local groups, business owners and individual supporters of the project.

Construction has now began on what is going to be eventually be called the Oceanside Community Track. It’s a name that aptly fits the new eight-lane straight, six-lane rubberized all-season training track because of the collaboration that occurred in the community.

Among those who was extremely ecstatic to see the work finally get underway were retired athletic coaches Kim and Randy Longmuir, who have long advocated to have the dilapidated cinder track replaced.

“You can tell by my smile how I feel,” said Kim, who with her husband Randy has trained premier athletes on the old track that included Canadian Olympian steeplechase runner Alycia Butterworth. “Our dream has come true after all of these years, to see this ground being broken.”

“It’s very exciting and it’s just a wonderful way for the community to create something that’s going to be used for years and years,” said Randy.

READ MORE: City of Parksville to contribute more funds to get Oceanside track project to the finish line

When asked if this latest development would motivate them to come out of retirement, both burst into laughter.

“I said that to Randy this morning ‘oh, this is going to make me want to come back,’” said Kim. “I miss it so much. I really, really miss it. So, yeah, this is very tempting.”

The Ballenas Secondary cinder track is currently being unearthed. Once the landscape has been levelled and vital drainage system has been put in place, asphalt will be laid and on top of it the rubberized surface will be installed.

Depending on the weather, the new track is expected to be ready by November.

The City of Parksville contributed $750,000 to the $1.5 million project and was instrumental in getting the project off and running. Mayor Doug O’Brien was excited to see the construction finally underway.

“This is a really good day in Parksville, in Oceanside in general,” said O’Brien. “This has been 30 years in the making. And there’s so many people that have committed to this and I have to single out Randy and Kim Longmuir, from the track club that have been working on this relentlessly. Their tenacity is amazing.”

School trustee Elaine Young, also the president of the Oceanside Community Track Society, commended the collaborative efforts that went into advancing the project.

“When we collaborate together we can get it done and for the community,” said Young. “This is going to be a great recreational site for everybody in our community. And hopefully we can put our minds now to collaborating about other recreational facilities because that will keep us healthy and young. And for our kids, this is going to be a marvelous thing to be able to run on a proper track.”

Qualicum Beach Coun. Scott Harrison shared Young’s sentiment about working together as a community.

“We all come together and we contribute a little bit we can get great things done,” said Harrison. “And that’s the important message I hope we take home from this that when we stop pointing fingers at each other and start working together we can accomplish anything we want to do.”

School district director of operations Phil Munro was tasked to oversee the project through two years ago. He said the biggest challenge was the lack of funding as the cost of the project went up due to COVID-19.

“We were 50 per cent there in 2022 and the project was either going to die or it needs to be revitalized, simply because there was a lot of cost increases due to COVID and one of the challenges for us is to actually get post-COVID pricing and see really how much money we really needed.”

The design of the track has been adjusted. Instead of just laying a track on top of the old surface, Munro said, they wanted a quality track that would be durable and last longer.

“The priority is not to cheap out on things that were really important,” said Munro. “For example, the drainage system. Any of the track facilities we’ve been told about have had bad things happened because of water getting underneath the track or water ponding too much on the track. And we made sure that the engineers build a good drainage system and that’s where we didn’t cheap out.”

Munro said they also went for the premium surface for the track. They leveraged the community aspect in seeking help from local contractors and businesses. They were successful as the price was reduced, Munro said.

As well, the track design offered some flexibility as it now offers an option to add two more running lanes and make it an eight-lane track in the future.

The project had more than 2,500 donors from municipalities, organizations, businesses and individuals. The RDN donated $491,800 with $408,800 allocated from Northern Community Recreation reserves, $32,000 from Electoral Area G (French Creek, San Pareil, Little Qualicum, Englishman River) Community Works Funds, $21,000 from Electoral Area H (Bowser, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay) Community Works Funds and $30,000 from Electoral Area E (Nanoose Bay) Community Works Funds. School District 69 provided $200,000 with Marathon Surfaces donating $100,000 and Town of Qualicum Beach $75,000.

Some of the other donors include Oceanside Track and Field Club, Parksville Lions Club, Quality Foods, Oceanside Community Track Association, CUPE, Motiontide, Central Builders’ Supplies, Haylock Bros Paving, RLR Lawyers, Anthony MacAulay Notary, Ballard Fine Homes, Dr. Gordon Costigan, Pioneer Wood Heat Supplies, Precision Wealth, West Jet, Don Luke, Oceanside Running Club Association (ORCA) and Butterworth.

There were also many individuals and residents who shared their expertise in making sure the track is built correctly.

“Now we just don’t have a have track but we have a really great track,” said O’Brien. “It’s definitely going to be an assett for all our community in Oceanside.”

While the track surface is now being dealt with proponents of the project are still looking for donations to pay for added amenities such as washrooms and other features.

If you wish to donate, visit the Oceanside Community Track website at

Michael Briones

About the Author: Michael Briones

I rejoined the PQB News team in April 2017 from the Comox Valley Echo, having previously covered sports for The NEWS in 1997.
Read more