The Ballenas Secondary outdated cinder track is used by students in School District 69 and is need of a major upgrade. (PQB News File Photo)

Parksville running track project gets funding commitment from pair of RDN electoral areas

Committee still seeks regional district’s full support

Two Electoral Areas in District 69 have committed funds to support the Ballenas Secondary track upgrade project in Parksville.

Area G (French Creek, San Pareil, Little Qualicum) director Lehann Wallace made a motion at the Oceanside Services Committee meeting on Feb. 12 that, pending approval from the Union of B.C. Municipalities, $32,000 from its Community Work Funds be allocated to the track upgrade initiative.

Wallace said Area G represents 16 per cent of the population in District 69 region.

“Even though there is no way for Area G to achieve a track in Area G, I have heard loud and clear for many residents tonight,” said Wallace. “You know I have watched this painful argument and debate happen in Oceanside for a very long time. All I can offer at this point is to ensure that you receive whatever injection and enthusiasm from the community on behalf of Area G to this project. To represent the residents in Area G who reached out to me for this support.”

Area H director Stuart McLean (Bowser, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay) amended Wallace’s motion to also include a $21,000 contribution from its Community Work Funds. He believes it’s a good project.

The motion passed unanimously.

RELATED: Parksville Qualicum Beach running track project loses traction at RDN committee level

RELATED: Parksville Qualicum Beach running track project plans reduced in scale

The president of the Oceanside Track Renewal Steering Committee, Rudy Terpstra, along with fundraising chair Michael Garland and athlete Juliette Desvaux made a presentation to the Oceanside Services Committee.

Terpstra expressed the need to have the Regional District of Nanaimo join the project.

“The question for you is simple,” said Terpstra. “Will you support and what will that support looks like? And we are applying for grants regularly but as I am sure many of you are familiar with, many of the grants are government active grants, and without the RDN supporting our project it makes it difficult for us to qualify in many of those grants.”

The project has now been reduced in scale. Instead of an eight-lane rubberized track, the plan is now for a four- or six-lane training track with a six-lane straightaway. The cost has gone down to approximately $1.5 million, which the Oceanside Track Renewal Committee vehemently aims to raise by the end of 2021 and start construction in the spring of 2022.

The proponents of the track originally asked the RDN for $500,000 but their request was rejected by directors who cited lack of information on a variety of issues. Terpstra said they would be happy to have $250,000 from the RDN.

Wallace asked RDN staff what’s is going to happen with $204,407 that was intended for the track upgrade.

RDN general manager of recreation and parks Tom Osborne said some of the money has now being redirected to help the Town of Qualicum Beach’s plan to build an artificial all-season surface. That money has now been moved to the 2022 budget.

Qualicum Beach director Brian Wiese said that the astroturf project is still uncertain at this time and wondered if they are able to divide the money and give half to the track project.

Osborne said the money has already been moved to 2022 budget and is no longer available at this time.

Parksville director Adam Fras said it does not benefit everyone across Oceanside when Area G and H are putting money in while other areas are not.

“This is not a good way to continue down,” said Fras. “Same thing with Ravensong (Aquatic Centre). We don’t have full participation in the funding of Ravensong but absolutely with have all the people from all the areas that use Ravensong. We need to be working more collaboratively and if we’re going to be supporting project it can’t just be piecemeal type of way. We’ve got to come together on it.”

Parksville director and Mayor Ed Mayne agreed with Fras but he still is not convinced as he wants to know the final cost of the project and the annual cost of maintenance and operation.

“What’s it going to cost and how much money coming from the senior levels of government,” said Mayne. “There’s too many questions here to be out just throwing money at this.”

Area E director Bob Rogers (Nanoose Bay) also is not willing to commit support the project without further information.

No motion was made to get the RDN to contribute any funds or offer support to the project.

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