EDITORIAL: We’ll have to pay to play

EDITORIAL: We’ll have to pay to play

Local sports organizations and politicians alike would like to see more sports tourism in Parksville Qualicum Beach. For now, their vision may exceed the limits of the region’s infrastructure.

In a meeting earlier this year, Parksville’s city council was wowed by the number of visitors brought to the community by the Parksville Panters old-timers hockey tournament, a four-day affair that filled hotels and restaurants.

Councillors would like to see more of that, and the Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association is working to make it happen as much as possible.

But while Oceanside Place has proven perfectly able to host large tournaments — for everything from minor hockey to provincial lacrosse championships to the aforementioned old-timers hockey, the region has few suitable facilities for that level of participation.

The Regional District of Nanaimo’s Draft District 69 Recreational Services Master Plan was unveiled last week, and suggested little will change in the short term.

An expansion of the Ravensong Aquatic Centre in Qualicum Beach is a major feature of the draft plan, and would expand the total number of 25-metre swimming lanes for the public and local clubs. But turning it into a 50-metre competition pool, let alone building a second pool in Parksville, are economic non-starters.

And don’t look for large-scale soccer or track and field competition in the area. Neither a turf field or a track are part of the rec master plan’s short-term vision.

Ironically, one venue that can — and does — host major provincial championships could be on the chopping block. The Parksville Curling Club, which plays in the converted former hockey arena at Community Park, will host the B.C. men’s championship in January of 2018, its sixth provincial championship bonspiel.

Club officials note that they are able to host these championships specifically because the club is an arena, but both the RDN draft recreation plan and Parksville’s Community Park master plan envision removing the facility in the next decade.

Parksville Qualicum Beach has many dedicated volunteers willing, ready and able to host large-scale tournaments and provincial championships.

With help from the local tourism association, they remain the best sports and recreation assets in the community. — Parksville Qualicum Beach News