Efforts continue to upgrade the running track and Ballenas Secondary in Parksville. (File photo)

Regional District of Nanaimo not ready to commit $500K to Ballenas track project

Request for funding assistance deferred to Oceanside Services Committee

The Ballenas Track Renewal Project has hit a stumbling block.

At the Regional District of Nanaimo’s committee of the whole meeting Jan. 14, the board acknowledged a letter from School District 69 board of trustees chair Eve Flynn, requesting funding support from the regional district in the amount of $500,000. But the RDN board was not willing to make that commitment just yet.

Electoral Area H (Deep Bay, Bowser and Qualicum Bay) director Stuart MacLean made a motion to defer the request to the Oceanside Services Committee.

Parksville mayor and director Ed Mayne pointed out the lack of information regarding the actual plans for the Ballenas track.

“I find it hard to understand what we’re going to defer quite frankly, since they don’t know what kind of a track they’re going to build,” said Mayne. “They don’t know whether it’s going to be three lanes, eight lanes or six lanes, whether they’re going to level the park. What are they going to do yet they’re still asking for $500,000? I think we should just send it back and suggest to them when they know what they’re going to do as a board. Then perhaps at that point in time we could evaluate whether we’re willing to donate $500,000 to them.”

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

Electoral Area E (Nanoose Bay) Bob Rogers supported Mayne’s point of view. He agreed that the matter should be brought before the Oceanside Services Committee.

“That’s probably where its best to have the discussion about what sort of a response we want to do to the school district,” said Rogers. “I agree it’s too premature to just do $500,000. But I think the OSC is the place to have that discussion for those municipalities and electoral areas involved in the eventual funding and contribution to this.”

School District 69 started the track upgrade plans going last year. To show its commitment, the board has earmarked $200,000 toward the project. The board formed a steering committee that held its first meeting last September.

The 18-member committee consisted of community, municipal, regional district, students, and school district officials and trustee. Mayne is involved in the committee as the RDN’s representative.

At the school board meeting last Dec. 17, the committee presented a report that strongly supports an eight-lane facility. A review conducted by Koers Engineering cited that an eight-lane track would cost around $1,738,438 while a six track would be around $1,165,563.

To help alleviate the cost, the committee had asked the SD69 board to request the RDN to become a partner in the track initiative and possibly contribute $500,000 to the infrastructure development.

RDN chairman Ian Thorpe said they would like to know more about the project.

“We don’t have $500,000 in our budget and we would need information further before we proceed,” said Thorpe.

The motion to defer the request to the OSC was carried and will be presented to the RDN board for approval.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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