Some members of the District 69 Recreation Commission want the region to “bite the bullet” and work on building a centralized indoor and outdoor recreation facility.
That was the strong message expressed by commissioner for School District 69, Elaine Young, at the commission meeting on Thursday afternoon at Oceanside Place.
Steve Slawuta of RC Strategies + Perc presented the Recreation Services Master Plan for District 69 2019-2029 via teleconference to the commission for approval. But not everyone in the commission was ready to sign off on the plan.
Some of the options highlighted in the master plan included Ravensong Pool, which is now at capacity, and the proposed rubberized track for the Ballenas Secondary School.
Young, along with Electoral Area F commissioner Reg Nosworthy, feels the master plan is too fragmented and fails to clearly address the needs of the region, especially in aquatics.
The master plan presented three options for the Ravensong Pool. The first is to expand the facility with the addition of a wellness centre ($8.7 million), the second to add two lanes to the existing tank ($11 million), and third is to build a new facility ($20 million). Option one is being recommended but option two could also be explored under the plan.
Young said she used to swim four times a week but now she no longer swims at Ravensong Pool as it is, in her opinion, too small for the number of people who currently use it. She wants a new facility built.
“Option one is absolutely not acceptable to anybody who swims,” said Young. “Option two is barely acceptable to people who swim now. We have to get in front of stuff and start to look not at population right now but as population as it’s going to be in five years.”
Young added, “let’s get in front of it. Let’s bite the bullet and let’s build a new facility that will be ready in five years.”
Commission chair Julian Fell said the plan needs to be reviewed, has to be practical and should be supported by the community.
“The political reality in terms to the referendum, if you come in with a major price ticket, you won’t get anything,” said Fell. “You have to be realistic.”
Nosworthy said he could not support the new master plan. He said if the motion would be to proceed with the plan that was created in July 2006, he would have not problems with it.
“I would have my hand up and I would in fact be jumping up and down,” said Nosworthy. “Because everything that’s in this plan lays it out much cleaner, much clearer and much more precise. I just spent 12 years on this recreation commission working from this plan (2006). I am going to have a problem with this. That’s my decision. I’m sorry but that’s just the way I feel.”
Young said that the master plan deviated from previous discussions held among the commission. She finds it surprising to see the issue of the track and field upgrade included in the agenda.
The master plan recommended that the regional district collaborate with the City of Parksville, Town of Qualicum Beach and School District 69 to explore upgrading and retrofitting of a natural surface field to artificial turf.
Nosworthy said that in the 2006 plan, 10 tracks were studied and the result showed that building an artificial turf in school property is not a good idea because the school won’t maintain it.
“I don’t have a problem moving ahead with the track but I don’t think that would be the best place for a rubberized track,” said Nosworthy. Young agreed.
Fell asked Nosworthy if there is anything in the 2006 plan that he wanted incorporated into the new master plan.
“The strategy in here (2006 plan), which was clearly documented, is to go forward with a strategy for a long-term, indoor-outdoor sports recreation complex,” said Nosworthy. “This one (new master plan) has bits and pieces of it. And those bits and pieces don’t come together as clear for me to meet the current needs.”
General manager of recreations and parks Tom Osborne told the commission that the planning should be done in stages. It would require community engagement to determine what the public is willing to accept, to see what it would look like and how the plans would be funded.
Fell said what is lacking in the proposed master plan that he wants included is the acquisition of land for future recreation developments.
“I believe we’ve identified the issues but not the means of acquiring them,” said Fell. “I don’t see a long-term plan to acquire sites for a sportsplex and for a second pool. We should now be looking for sites that we can build on 25 years from now. Because if we don’t acquire them now, when you want them, there will be something else built on them. I would like to see that added to the plan.”
Fell said the master plan according to the consultant will serve only as guide and it will need some refinement by the commission.
Qualicum Beach commissioner Neil Horner said he doesn’t agree with the consultant’s Option 1 recommendation for the pool as he feels it would be insufficient to satisfy the needs of the community. He said he would endorse it if the new pool in Option 1 was made with just a tank with lanes.
“Staff did a great job on this report but I just don’t agree with it,” said Horner. “I have a problem with it. I’d be content myself to give approval for this report if I was able to amend Option 1 to include just a tank. Also I agree with the idea of purchasing or identifying potential sites for these recreation facilities. With those two changes I’d be content to pass it.”
A motion was made to approve the master plan, but the words “as a guiding document” were added to it. The motion passed with Horner and Nosworthy opposing it.