Oceanside Youth Soccer Society is raising concerns about the unsafe playing fields and the unfair allocation of playing times by the Regional District of Nanaimo Recreation Department. — File photo

Soccer group wants RDN to look at all-weather facility

OYS calls current allocation of field time to all sports unfair

Sports fields in the Parksville-Qualicum Beach area are not enough to accommodate all the users in the community.

That’s the message Oceanside Youth Soccer Society plans to share at the Regional District of Nanaimo District 69 Recreation Commission meeting, slated for 2 p.m. today at Oceanside Place. Society president Suzanne Beauchesne and registrar/director John Cooper will appear as a delegation to highlight the availability and unfair allocation of field time to all sports groups and organizations.

In the last 25 years, no new fields have been added and currently the School District 69 fields are poorly maintained, making them consistently unsafe and unplayable for soccer during the wet season from October to April, the society argues.

OYSS pointed out that the only fields that could be used during wet seasons are Parksville Community Park, Springwood Park and Qualicum Recreation. And despite being the largest user group of sports fields in spring, fall and winter, they have been denied the use of the Parksville Community Park this year by the regional district’s field scheduler.

The group indicated it has used the field for three hours on Saturday mornings for more than 10 years for their spring soccer. They explained that the scheduler has given exclusive use of the fields to softball groups, playing during weekday evenings and all day on weekends.

The society is disappointed that this spring, 219 children, ages five to nine years old were left without a field to play on. They were allowed to play at Springwood Park temporarily; however, when the fields were double booked they were transferred to Qualicum Recreation field. The cost of laying out new fields and moving nets was shouldered by OYSS.

There are 70 children age 10 to 12 that play at Arrowview Elementary School, the society said, but coaches raised safety concerns for players. There were 63 youth aged 13 to 17 years old who played at Qualicum Beach Elementary School, however, many quit due to field condition issues.

“It is extremely difficult to offer programs for soccer players without some assurance of access to playable fields,” said the group, which is now pushing the recreation commission to look at building an all-weather sports field complex in the community. Parksville Qualicum Beach is the only major community on eastern Vancouver Island, south of Port McNeill, without an all-weather turf field. The society has set aside a $200,000 segregated fund for the development of an all-weather field complex, if partners are available.

OYSS also said it would like to consult with the RDN field scheduler for equitable treatment for sport field user groups. They want the RDN to establish a booking policy that allocates field time equitably between user groups without allowing blanket booking of all prime time slots by a single user group.