The Ballenas Secondary track upgrade project in Parksville is sprinting toward the finish line.
The $1.2-million project has been endorsed by the Regional District of Nanaimo, which has agreed to collectively commit $563,800.
The board approved a contribution agreement at its regular meeting on Jan. 11, to support the School District 69’s plan to transform the old dilapidated Ballenas cinder track into an all-season rubberized facility.
“Access to well-maintained, multi-use facilities is important to the physical and mental health of all residents,” said Tyler Brown, RDN chair. “We are pleased to be able to support this project alongside our member municipalities and to work together with School District 69 to ensure all in the (Parksville Qualicum Beach) area can enjoy the facility for both competitive and recreational purposes.”
In exchange, the school district will ensure the public will have access to the proposed six-lane training track outside school hours, including parking and other amenities when possible, such as a washroom and changing area inside the school. It also puts in place funding for future repairs and annual maintenance costs.
“The Board of Education of School District 69 (Qualicum) is pleased that through regional collaboration we will realize the recreation of a wonderful asset for not only school district students but the community as a whole,” said Eve Flynn, board chair.
“It has been a pleasure to work collaboratively with School District 69, Regional District of Nanaimo and the Town of Qualicum Beach to bring this project to reality,” said Parksville Mayor Ed Mayne. “This much-needed upgraded track will benefit the community, from someone out for a daily walk to older athletes and high-performance athletes. This facility will be an opportunity for our youth to try sports and develop habits to last a lifetime.”
Parksville will allocate $250,000 from its Gas Tax Reserve Fund while Qualicum Beach will be using funds from the town’s Community Development Fund to provide its $56,400 share of the support.
“This is an excellent example of regional collaboration advancing the well-being of our joint youth and senior populations,” said Qualicum Beach Mayor Brian Wiese. “We are happy to partner with our neighbours on this important initiative.”
The Oceanside Community Track Committee, which has spearheaded the fundraising effort of the project, has also been working hard to reach their goal.
Fundraising co-ordinator Michael Garland said the project will cost $1.2 million but they want to raise another $300,000 to make sure there is funding in place for any unforeseen repairs or maintenance issues that may arise.
“We’re so pleased to hear the RDN’s commitment and what that means in a nutshell is to tender we go,” said Garland. “That’s how quickly it could come about The school board administrator has been working on the terms for the request for proposals and are currently being drafted and will soon be issued. This is happening.”
Recently, the committee received $10,000 from the Parksville Lions and Garland is challenging businesses and organizations to match it.
“The Lions club is a small group,” said Garland. “They only have 19 members but were still able to contribute $10,000 to the project.”
Garland said more than $800,000 has already been raised and the committee will continue to pursue provincial and federal grants.
“So far we haven’t had any contributions from the provincial government or the federal government,” said Garland. “This is part of their criteria for a healthy lifestyle. Due to the election and COVID-19 things have been held back a wee bit this year. We still are looking and working hard to get $250,000 from the provincial government and we’re hoping the feds will match it.”
For project information go to Oceanside Community Track - Oceanside Community Track.