Groups uniting to pressure new Oceanside committee

Inaugural meeting set to take place Thursday in QB council chambers

Recreational groups and individuals want the new Oceanside Services Committee to make a decision now on the priorities identified in the Recreation Services Master Plan for District 69, completed and endorsed by the Regional District of Nanaimo board last year.

“We don’t want any more discussions,” said Randy White, former commissioner with the now dissolved District 69 Recreation Commission. “If this committee thinks it’s going to get away with that, it’s wrong.”

The RDN recently consolidated the District 69 Recreation Commission, District 69 Community Justice Select Committee and the Northern Community Economic Development Select Committee into one new committee, the OSC.

It will hold the first of its four meetings scheduled this year at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 16 in the council chambers of the Town of Qualicum Beach.

White, along with recreational groups in the Parksville Qualicum Beach, are uniting to express their concerns to the OSC. The group is still forming, said White, but the plan is to put the pressure on the committee starting at the inaugural meeting today.

“If they come out and ask us for input, it’s gonna be, ‘you’ve had it,’” said White, referring to the master plan. “Make your damn decision. If you’re not going to make your decision, then we’re going get loud. To me, the question to groups is, ‘are you sick and tired of this yet? What do you want? Do you want a decision now? Yes. If not, what?”

The District 69 master plan identified priorities that include upgrades to Ravensong Pool, construction of a rubberized track at Ballenas, and developing a centralized land purchase strategy for a future indoor/outdoor sport recreation facility complex for the Oceanside area. A similar conclusion was made in another study that was undertaken in 2004.

Some groups are not happy with the tight deadline to request to appear as a delegation at the inaugural meeting that the RDN only made known to the public on May 9, giving them just a day to make a request and submission.

Nancy DeGagne, a member of the Aquafit action group, said with the new committee scheduled to meet only four times a year, they don’t have a lot of chances to express their concerns.

“Since they have literally shelved all progress that has been made in this area such as pool expansion, track renovations, sportsplex, the feeling appears to be to sweep us under the carpet with a new name and unknowledgeable people on their committee and to delay all our past communications requests for service in this area,” said DeGagne. “They must be brought to awareness again.”

Ann McVey of the Ravensong Action group said they had to scramble at the last minute to get something together.

Ravensong Waterdancers wanted to discuss with the new committee the challenges they’ve been facing with the existing Ravesong pool.

“Limited pool times and lack of depth in the majority of the main pool,” said president Jessica Nemlander. “These two concerns directly affect our club’s programming, which consequently causes us to limit the number of teams, even though we have growth potential from within the community and surrounding areas.”

RELATED: RDN to form new group to replace northern committees

Nemlander wants the committee to dwell on the priorities concluded by the master plan.

“This was reinforced by the motions made at the RDN directors meeting on Sept. 4, 2018,” said Nemlander.

“The time for consultants and public input into what is needed is at a close, after discussing for many years — over five — and various proposals presented, it is time for a plan of action to achieve these goals so that our kids, community members and clubs can start to reap the benefits.”

White is not confident that the new committee can achieve a lot with having only four meetings in a year.

White and McVey are requesting to meet the mayors of the City of Parksville and Town of Qualicum Beach to talk about expanding their boundaries inorder to have the tax base that may help fund the needs of District 69 without having to go through the regional district.

“It’s time for Parksville and Qualicum Beach to grow up,” said White, a former member of parliament. “Our city boundaries have to expand here and we got to have a handle on the whole project. Not just a track or multiplex or pool or new skating rink. I do think, it’s at a crisis time. If you think 222 Corfield is a problem, they’re sitting on a development problem. You are being run by another city and your tax base is small.”

“We’ve got to take control of our property taxes,” said McVey. “We’re paying what… 35 per cent is going to the RDN for what? What are we getting back from it? By expanding your boundaries, they you get control of your finances.”

The meeting Thursday will also be live-streamed and can be viewed via the RDN website at www.rdn.bc.ca/oceanside-services-committee.

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