An eight-lane track option has received favourable support for the Ballenas Track Upgrade Project. (File photo)

Committee favours 8-lane running track for Ballenas facility in Parksville

RDN to be approached for funding to support project

The steering committee that was formed to work on the Ballenas Track Renewal Project strongly supports an eight-lane facility.

The committee, established by the District 69 (Qualicum) school board in September, met for the first time recenty and agreed to explore the maximum upgrade that can be achieved and then reduce the scale if needed. That was part of a report the steering committee presented to the school board at its meeting on Dec 17.

The committee pointed out that based on the review conducted by Koers Engineering, a six-lane track would cost $1,165,563 and for eight lanes, the price tag is $1,738,438.

Oceanside Track and Field, one of the local clubs that have been pushing for this projects, would be happy with six lanes.

The field events, however, would be hosted elsewhere.

An upgraded track with eight lanes could be an economic driver as it would be able to host major events.

The committee noted every track and field facility in B.C., other than Nanaimo, uses adjoining field, or off-site facilities for field events and decided to consider this option with some minor, and possibly temporary modifications.

READ MORE: Qualicum school district commits $200k towards Ballenas track upgrade

The Ballenas cinder track is currently in a state of disrepair.

Updates were done in 2005 with studies undertaken in 2005, 2006, 2011 and 2014. However, no progress was made to improve the dilapidated facility.

School District 69 has already committed $200,000 towards the project.

The board will approach other sources of funding that include the Regional District of Nanaimo, City of Parksville, and Town of Qualicum Beach, federal government grants, gaming funds, economic development grants, rural dividend fund, federal recreation infrastructure grants, community works fund, accessibility grants, corporate sponsorships, community benefactors, corporate goodwill via fundraising campaign, working off-line with community leaders including in government.

The school board has been asked to support in principle the steering committee’s plan to build an eight-lane competition standard track at Ballenas with the final decision to come after reports from the committee on all implications including in relation to funding of both the construction and the ongoing maintenance of the track.

It was also recommended that the board of education write a letter to the RDN requesting funding support for the project in the amount of $500,000 with an indication of the board’s desire to enter in a service agreement for ongoing maintenance and eventual track replacement.

The Ballenas Track Renewal Project committee has 18 members that consist of community, municipal, regional district, students, and school district officials and trustee.

It is chaired by Ballenas Secondary principal Rudy Terpstra. The other members are SD69 secretary treasurer Robn Amos, Parksville Chamber of Commerce executive director Kim Burden, PacificSport Vancouver Island executive director Drew Cooper, SD69 general manager of operations Chris Dempster, Ballenas Secondary student Juliette Desvaux, SD69 superintendent of schools Keven Elder, community representative Michael Garland, Town of Qualicum Beach councillor Scott Harrison, City of Parksville management Keeva Kehler, RDN management Hannah King, community representatives Kim and Randy Longmuir, RDN director Ed Mayne, City of Parksville councillor Doug O’Brien, Town of Qualicum Beach management Daniel Sailland, Oceanside Track and Field president Jane Waite and SD69 trustee Elaine Young.

If all goes well, the committee would like to see construction by spring of 2021 at the latest.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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