Amanda Redpath is encouraged by the response from the community after the Saltair Slo-Pitch League was denied the use of the Centennial Park ball fields this season.
A recommendation from the Electoral Area Services Committee April 6 to deny a Special Events Permit application by the league was going before the Cowichan Valley Regional District board on Wednesday, April 13 for further discussion. Redpath, one of the league’s executive members, was invited to the meeting and hoping the board will decide to approve the permit.
“We do have one more opportunity to overturn the decision,” she said. “There’s been such a strong statement being made. The togetherness that’s coming out of all this is what it’s all about.”
At the EASC meeting, CVRD Area G director Lynne Smith raised concerns about the league and matters she noted were not in compliance with the permit.
“To start with, I would like to state that I am totally in favour of ball leagues’ usage of the CVRD owned Saltair Centennial Park,” she indicated. “The CVRD staff report has brought forward CVRD Parks Bylaw compliance and complaint issues over the years with the Saltair Slo-Pitch League. The league is responsible for self regulation of their players and adhering to the CVRD Parks Bylaw 738 with the issuance of their Special Events Permit. All users of the CVRD Parks & Trails fall under the same CVRD regulations.”
The usual process, Smith explained, is for a CVRD Special Events Permit application to be filed at the CVRD Parks & Trails Division. “The application is reviewed by the CVRD Parks & Trails staff and would usually be denied or approved at that stage. As there has been ongoing CVRD Parks Bylaw non-compliance over the years with the league a staff report was brought forward to seek board direction on this application based on the information contained in the report.”
“There were isolated incidents dealt with immediately and disciplinary methods utilized where needed,” countered Redpath. “For instance, when speaking to reports of public urination, there was an incident four years ago where someone had gone into the bush and urinated mid-game rather than running across the field to the washroom and so we problem solved with our CVRD rep and our league, paying from our pockets to have additional outhouses available and administered warnings to the team that this was unacceptable.”
A concern was also expressed about fire hazards with smoking during games.
“Under Province of BC regulations, additional signage was posted at the entrances and other locations in the park to notify all users of the extreme fire hazard – no fires, no open flames, no smoking,” Smith added. “CVRD no-smoking signage is posted permanently on the ball dugouts.
“In 2021 a heat dome was declared on June 25. June 30, Lytton burnt to the ground, later Monte Lake area and locally in the CVRD we were dealing with a State of Emergency for some CVRD locations for the Copper Canyon wildfire and then the Mt. Hayes wildfire.”
“When the CVRD was about to remove the fireproof ashtrays from the fields, we pleaded with them not to as we knew this could come up as an issue but it was classified as park lands and so across parks all smoking was banned,” declared Redpath. “However, some people smoke and with many players to navigate we knew this could be a challenge so we spoke to the players and reviewed the expectations that there be no smoking at the park. Some then went to the gravel parking lot and roadways to smoke and extinguished there. Some brought their own ashtrays with water to ensure no fire hazard. There was never a concern of fire for the neighbours.
Most of the league’s 200 members follow all the rules and treat the parks with respect, she added.
”In times when there are some who do not, this is dealt with. If we saw someone smoking we would address it right away. If we saw cigarette butts in the gravel we would pick them up and put them in the garbage. Overall, we are there for the love of ball and to have a casual recreational sport to gather and play with friends and family. This recreational league began 40 years ago as a beer league and as the times have changed and expectations have been put in place, so has the league. But our love of the game has not wavered. What a shame to not let people play in a time when we need it the most.”
The league did not operate in 2020 with Provincial Health Orders for COVID coming into effect but was issued a Special Event Permit by CVRD staff in 2021 with a later start and finish.