RDN to form new group to replace Northern committees

Recreation commissioners disappointed with the decision

The District 69 Recreation Commission is one of three groups that Electoral Area E director Bob Rogers wants to eliminate from the Regional District of Nanaimo.

The others are the District 69 Community Justice Select Committee and the Northern Community Economic Development Select Committee.

Rogers put a notice of motion under new business at the RDN board regular meeting on March 12 that staff be directed to report on establishing a new northern communities select committee comprised of the directors for Parksville, Qualicum Beach and electoral areas E, F, G and H to replace the roles of the three groups.

In doing so, the board of directors deferred making a decision that they proceed without delay the Oceanside Recreation and Sport Infrastructure Sub-Committee Report’s original recommendations.

The District 69 Recreation Commission has been pushing for the RDN to start a feasible look at creating a rubberized track of up to eight lanes at Ballenas Secondary, upgrading the Ravensong Aquatic Centre by adding a second 25-metre tank and expanded change rooms, and developing a centralized land purchase strategy for a future indoor/outdoor sport recreation facility complex for the Oceanside area.

The regional district board declined to proceed with the recommendations as they want to discuss the issues further and familiarize themselves with the recreational needs of District 69, which were highlighted in Recreation Services Master Plan for District 69 that was commissioned by the RDN and was completed last year. The same issues were mentioned in another study that was undertaken in 2004.

Rogers sees no reason why there should be three groups that serve mostly as advisory groups to the RDN board.

“We have three committees and commissions in the northern communities which is from Nanoose up to Bowser Bay, including Parksville and Qualicum Beach,” said Rogers.

“We can make governance more efficient and also at the same time we can still provide opportunities for the public to put in their views and their comments and appear before this committee.”

RELATED: ‘How many times are we going to put this on hold and go back into study mode?’

Rogers indicated that the District 69 Recreation Commission has had its challenges but he believes the new committee would be a lot more effective in dealing with the issues concerning the region.

“One of the reasons for creating this select committee of elected directors is to allow us to move forward on some things because it’s the elected ones who have to make the decisions on whether or not what the priorities are and what dollars are available.”

Commissioners for Electoral Area G and F, Randy White and Reg Nosworthy, respectively expressed disappointment on the motion.

“This comes as no surprise to me as the RDN has been dysfunctional in the area of recreation in Parksville and Qualicum for many years,” said White.

“New members and more experienced members of the Rec Commission have been outspoken about this dysfunction and the RDN board is reacting in a predictable fashion by setting up a new organization, new members and more studies — more delays and no facilities for our area.”

Nosworthy, who has been involved with the commission for nearly 20 years, said the RDN board has eroded the role of the commission. They had a good partnership in the past with the RDN recreation department and cited the creation of the Oceanside Place as one of their most significant projects that they successfully collaborated on.

“We were part of the process,” said Nosworthy.

“We knew what was going. The recreation department brought things to us for input. This is a huge loss to the community.”

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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