Fundraising efforts to build a six-lane all-weather community running track at Ballenas Secondary are more than halfway to the finish line.
The Oceanside Community Track Committee, which oversees the project, is aiming to raise $1.5 million by the end of this year and start construction by April 2022.
To date, according to Michael Garland, head of the fundraising committee, they’ve already raised more than $800,000.
“We are in such a good spot right now as far as having raised more than half of the funds already,” said Garland. “Certainly the momentum is building.”
In the next few weeks, Garland said, they aim to approach major businesses in the district to see if they would be interested sponsoring a lane for $25,000. They will also seek sponsors to have their names on the starting line and finish line for $50,000.
“We’re looking at different ways at having a champion and by having a lane named after a sponsor,” said Garland.
School District 69, the Oceanside Track and Field Club and parents are working on fundraising initiatives that will get them to the goal.
They have also sought a letter of support from the Regional District of Nanaimo for the purpose of going after federal and provincial grants.
“All of these folks are jumping on board and trying to find ways to raise money to get us this final push,” said Garland. “We’re just shocked with the amount of support this project is getting.”
Garland said this project is long overdue.
Some of the committee members, including athletic coaches Kim and Randy Longmuir of Mid Island Distance Running Club and Jane Waite of the Oceanside Track and Field, have been advocating to get the dilapidated cinder track at the high school upgraded.
“They put a lot of sweat equity on to it and it’s nice to see they’re finally being rewarded,” said Garland.
“I agree it’s two decades later. I give them a lot of respect because a lot of other folks would have given up. This means so much more to the community to be able to do this.”
Garland said they are now aiming to put out a request for proposal in a month or so for the track project.
“We need to start getting some hard cost in line here so we can have this thing ready to shovel dirt in the spring of next year,” said Garland.
For those interested in helping, you can make a direct donation at GoFundme at https://www.gofundme.com/f/oceanside-community-track
You can also join the fundraising team by signing up to Team Red at https://www.oceansidecommunitytrack.ca/join/ or donate your recycling at the Parksville Bottle Depot by asking them to put it to the Oceanside Track and Field account.