‘Over the moon:’ new running track for Oceanside close to fundraising goal

A new six-lane all-weather running track is one step closer to reality for École Ballenas Secondary School.

Funding in the amount of $234,400 was approved during the RDN’s board meeting on Tuesday, July 11 towards their new running track, a proposal years in the making.

Director of the Oceanside Track and Field Club Mark Desvaux said they are “absolutely over the moon” after hearing the news.

“The benefits to the community are just going to be huge and from a club’s perspective, we’re really excited because we’ve got so many enthusiastic young athletes coming through who are now going to have a proper surface to train on.”

School District 69 and the RDN have a shared agreement in place to ensure the track can be used by the entire community.

“We’re so grateful that the RDN and Parksville Council, as well as Qualicum and others, have all stepped up. This has made all the difference.”

The City of Parksville increased their contribution by $500,000 earlier this year, now committing $750,000 towards the project.

Other contributions from RDN, School District 69, the Town of Qualicum Beach and as well as private donors have fundraising in the home stretch.

Desvaux said this has been the final fundraising push they’ve been hoping for, after advocating for a new track for almost 20 years.

“There’s been a massive push in the last three to four years, the track became unsafe for use really. Sports days were being cancelled for the schools. A lot of athletes from the clubs were having to travel quite long distances to use other facilities.”

He said the track has already had at least two Olympic athletes train on it in the past, and he’s hoping the new surface will help carry on that tradition.

“We’ve had Alycia Butterworth who appeared at the most recent Olympics in the steeple chase, she started life on that track. And Michael Mason, the Canadian high-jump champion, and he’s been to the Olympics.”

The push for a new track is being spearheaded by the Oceanside Community Track Association with the total estimated cost coming in at a little over $1.56 million.

Construction is planned to begin in the spring of 2024, with a hopeful completion date in the fall.

There is also a Go Fund Me campaign set up to collect donations for the new track.

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