Regional District of Nanaimo staff will review financial options for the board to provide funding to the Ballenas track upgrade project in Parksville.
It was a motion endorsed by the RDN board at its meeting on Feb. 23. A staff report will be presented at the next Oceanside Services Committee meeting.
The board also approved an amended motion laid out by Electoral Area G (French Creek, San Pareil, Little Qualicum, Englishman River) director Lehann Wallace that pending approval from Union of BC Municipalities, $32,000 of Electoral Area G, and $21,000 of Electoral Area H. from Community Work Funds, be allocated for the construction of a track at Ballenas Secondary and that funds be transferred to School District 69 upon confirmation of other funding sources and the execution of a joint usage agreement.
Nanaimo director Ian Thorpe spoke against the project. He was not willing to allow the regional district to spend any money on the track.
“I am not trying to be funny but I was surprised because we’ve been around this track before and it was a year ago that this was discussed at great length at both the Oceanside committee and at the board level,” said Thorpe.
“I’m not in favour of going down the road where the RDN is going to be looking at ways to finance this project. For me it was poorly conceived and poorly presented. I’m being quite blunt, but I told that to the presenters. So unless there is other information, I won’t be supporting this.”
Some directors raised several questions about the cost to maintain and operate the track, and feared the regional district will be stuck paying.
The Oceanside Community Track Committee, whose members consist of school officials, different track and field groups, students, RDN staff and councillors from the City of Parksville and Qualicum Beach, submitted a letter to the board as a late addition to the meeting’s agenda that address concerns raised by directors at the Oceanside Services Committee meeting on Feb. 11.
Electoral Area E (Nanoose) director Bob Rogers said the letter they received doesn’t completely address their concerns raised last year when this matter was discussed. He wants to see a defined commitment from track and field groups.
Wallace informed the board significant changes have been made to the project as well as the efforts to raise funds. The size of the track has been scaled down to six lanes. It would cost $1,500,000. The track would be maintained by School District 69.
Wallace also pointed out that the track committee is seeking $250,000 financial assistance that they aim to use as leverage when applying for government grants and funding.
Qualicum Beach director Brian Wiese said the project would have moved forward had Thorpe not made the deciding vote to break the tie when it was first presented to the Oceanside Services Committee in 2020. Wiese feels the proponents of the project have done their job of answering concerns and questions the OSC has raised.
“I think most importantly at this point in time everyone needs to get outside and exercise,” said Wiese. “A track at the school would be used constantly by the elderly, the track and field clubs, and the schools. It’s a really good project that we really should jump behind and I fully support it.”
General manager of recreation and parks Tom Osborne informed the board $204,000 has already been allocated to the project from its reserves and that there is no longer a need to tax residents for it.
For those wishing to know more about the Ballenas track upgrade and what’s being done, you can go online at