The plan to put away funds for a multi-sport facility in District 69 has been removed from the 2019 Regional District of Nanaimo budget.
Electoral Area (Nanoose) E director Bob Rogers made a motion at the RDN board’s meeting on Jan. 22, to eliminate the contribution to the reserve fund and wait another year to do so. It was seconded by Parksville Mayor and RDN director Ed Mayne.
“I think it’s premature to set this [money] aside in 2019,” said Rogers. “I think it requires more input from the new board and from the representatives from Parksville and Qualicum Beach.”
Rogers said by deferring it for another year, they will have more time to deliberate on the issue. Qualicum Beach director Teunis Westbroek considered Rogers’s motion logical.
“We were anticipating, I think, to have to acquire land for this multiplex,” said Westbroek. “In the past, we’ve seen where there was land made available at no cost. A couple of facilities in our area, where we’ve acquired land to accommodate a facility, like the swimming pool for instance and other facilities that didn’t cost us anything. I think we should identify a site before we start planning.”
Parksville mayor and director Ed Mayne said since the city has a new council, they have yet to look at this project and are not ready to make an informed decision this time.
“I’d rather hold it until we know what we’re going for and where it’s going to go, how much it’s going to cost and in fact what we’re even proposing at this point in time,” said Mayne. “I would like to defer this for another year so we have time to go through it and check it out.”
A recreation services master plan for District 69 was completed by the RDN last year and one of its recommendations is to find a site to build a multi-sport complex. Prior to municipal elections last year, the District 69 recreation commission recommended to the RDN board that a centralized land purchase strategy be developed.
Rogers indicated there are other priorities the RDN will need to address but for now, he prefers that the funding contribution for the proposed multiplex be reduced to zero this year and reviewed again in 2020. He pointed out, however, the $100,000 reserved for professional fees and design cost for the future multi-sports complex will remain in the budget.
The board endorsed Roger’s budget amendment, with Electoral Area F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington) alternate director Julian Fell opposed.
District 69 recreation commissioner for Area F, Reg Nosworthy, who has been involved in two sportsplex land purchase study committees that led nowhere, said he’s not surprised with the board’s decision.
“The RDN has been studying, proposing and stalling on solutions to major issues regarding an overcrowded Ravensong pool, a deteriorating track and field at Ballenas School and the concept for a future Oceanside indoor/outdoor sportsplex recreation facility since about 2004, well over 15 years ago,” said Nosworthy.
He added all were clearly identified as top priority items in the RDN’s District 69 10-year recreation services master plan in 2006 and again highlighted last year.
“All future RDN Oceanside Recreation facility needs, including these top three, have reached a complete state of ‘analysis paralysis’ with no end in sight. This ongoing mode of creating internal reports, creating study subcommittees, hiring expensive consultants, producing detailed proposals, holding public presentations and then postponing the decision-making process over and over again is ludicrous. This never-ending cycle is a complete waste of effort, time and needs to come to an end.”
Rogers also made a second recommendation to reduce the $200,000 amount in reserve for the future District 69 Arena removal and land remediation to $100,000. That curling arena is located in Parksville Community Park.
“It’s premature to allocate $200,000 until Parksville has had a better chance to look at their plan,” said Rogers, who pointed out that the city has a new council in place.
Fell said he is against demolishing the old arena.
“I am completely baffled as to why Parksville wants it removed,” said Fell. “It’s a primary asset in that park. It’s a magnet for people coming to have tournaments there.”
The arena is currently leased out to the Parksville Curling Club for five years. The building is owned by the RDN and the land belongs to the City of Parksville.
Mayne said that at some point the arena will eventually have to be demolished.
“Really I don’t know what is involved,” said Mayne. “I would like to hold the tax money until it is necessary.”
The board unanimously approved Rogers’s second recommendation.
The board went on to pass the amended 2019 RDN budget.