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Additional funds put Ballenas track on course to construction stage

$240,400 to be allocated from Northern Community Recreation reserve funds
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The Ballenas Secondary cinder track requires an upgrade. (PQB News file photo)

The Oceanside Community Track project has gained added momentum to advance the initiative to the construction phase.

The Regional District of Nanaimo’s Oceanside Services Committee (OSC) has agreed to allocate more funds to the $1.5-million project that will see the dilapidated Ballenas Secondary cinder track upgraded to a six-lane, all-season rubberized surface.

The OSC voted unanimously to contribute another $240,400, to be drawn from the Northern Community Recreation reserve funds. The committee also requested the RDN board allocate $30,000 from Electoral Area E (Nanoose Bay) Community Works Fund to support the project.

The Oceanside Track Steering Committee (OTSC), which has been leading the fundraising initiative of the project, has raised close to $100,000 in donations.

A total of $763,800 has been committed to the project by the RDN ($204,400), City of Parksville ($250,000), Town of Qualicum Beach ($56,400), $32,000 from Community Work Funds of Electoral Area G (French Creek, San Pareil, Little Qualicum, Englishman River), and $21,000 from Electoral Area H (Bowser, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay) Community Work Funds.

But the OTSC indicated it has not been successful with acquiring any grants and is struggling to cover the shortfall of approximately $712,000.

READ MORE: Qualicum Beach to contribute more funds to Ballenas track project

The OTSC have sent a request letter to the RDN for additional funding support similar to the correspondence they sent to the Town of Qualicum Beach in June, which eventually led to council voting to allocate another $18,600.

Last April, the City of Parksville agreed to cover the balance needed to get the project going, when council voted to contribute an additional amount of $750,000 from its gas fund reserve, which would cover the balance of the cost to build the new track.

But council also hoped the amount would be reduced as they expected the other community partners to provide equitable cost sharing for the project.

Parksville director and Mayor Doug O’Brien provided the OSC, at its meeting on June 22, a copy of a letter they sent to School District 69 (Qualicum) asking it to advocate for further contributions from other community partners that include the RDN and Qualicum Beach.

Area H director Stuart MacLean made a motion to contribute $240,400 from the Northern Community Recreation reserve funds. The directors passed the motion but clearly indicated the funds will be used only for the creation of a six-lane all-season track.

Area E director Bob Rogers indicated he is disappointed with the amount of money the OTSC was able to raised separately through donations and other contributions. Rogers said the additional funds should get the project constructed as designed and that no further request for funding would be entertained.

“Any other amounts would have to be coming from the school district or other contributions,” said Rogers. “In my mind the additional $240,400 is not to do any other upgrades and so on to the track. Not to take it to an eight-lane track and not to do anything else. To provide the funding to offset what Parksville has guaranteed.”

O’Brien informed the OSC he wrote another letter to the school district to confirm there will be no changes to the track plan and any other donations or contributions forthcoming will go toward reducing the amount of funding they all have contributed to the project.

Rogers also made a successful motion requesting the OSC ask the RDN board to support additional $30,000 from Electoral Area E Community Works Fund to help the track project.

He said he wasn’t able to do this on behalf of Area E when Area G and H made contributions to the project last year as their Community Work Funds were already tied up from 2024 to 2025.

“Since that time, we’ve had some lower costs in some projects and so on and I feel safe to commit $30,000 from Electoral Area E Community Works Fund,” said Rogers.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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Michael Briones

About the Author: Michael Briones

I rejoined the PQB News team in April 2017 from the Comox Valley Echo, having previously covered sports for The NEWS in 1997.
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