The proposed Ballenas Secondary track upgrade may have not have gained the support of the Regional District of Nanaimo but its proponents have no plans of giving up.
Instead of pushing for a competitive eight-lane track that would have cost approximately $2 million, the Oceanside Track Renewal Steering Committee is recommending the School District 69 board endorsed a smaller scale four- or six-lane training track with a six-lane straightaway.
The idea of pushing for a smaller track was prompted when the RDN’s Oceanside Services Committee was reluctant to support the bigger project.
The track committee, in its report that will go before the SD69 board at its meeting on Oct. 27, highlighted Parksville Mayor and director Ed Mayne’s point of view regarding the running track project at the last OSC meeting on Sept. 17. Mayne stated: “I know it has gone on forever. If you asked me to vote on whether we should keep going forward with this or not, my vote would be that we terminate this discussion, put this out of its misery.”
The school board, which has committed $200,000 to the project, was seeking a $500,000 commitment from the RDN as well as a service and maintenance agreement. Even though $204,407 has already been included in the RDN’s 2020 budget, the OSC directors refused to allocate the funds as they feel it’s not a priority at this time.
“It is safe to say that, for a combination of reasons, support from the RDN and by extension from its members the City of Parksville and Town of Qualicum Beach is not forthcoming,” the track committee concluded in its report to the school board.
The track committee proposes to shift the project to a community grassroots level under the leadership of the SD69 board of education and a reconstituted steering committee that will include a school trustee, district senior staff, community members and students.
The board’s secretary-treasurer Ron Amos said they have made six grant applications without success due to the outbreak of COVID-19 but are waiting for a response on a federal infrastructure grant under BC Athletics.
The committee plans to redouble their fundraising efforts going forward and are preparing proposals for grants with awarding dates early in the new year. As well, local partnerships will be sought.
The track committee indicated that despite the poor surface conditions of the school facility, may school athletes, sports groups and clubs, as well as members of the community continue to use it on an ongoing basis.