Qualicum Beach to contribute more funds to Ballenas track project

The Town of Qualicum Beach will provide additional funding to help the Ballenas Secondary track upgrade project reach the finish line.

Staff recommended to council the town contribute another $71,200 to the Oceanside Community Track initiative that will see the creation of a six-lane rubberized track at Ballenas in Parksville.

Council, during its regular meeting on June 14, agreed to add more funds to the project.

Mayor Teunis Westbroek made an amendment to a staff recommendation to reduce the amount to $19,000. The town already committed $56,400 to the track project last year, and Westbroek estimated the latest addition will bring the town’s total contribution to $75,000.

Coun. Anne Skipsey noted to make it $75,000, the latest installment should be $18,600. Westbroek agreed and amended the amount to $18,600.

Coun. Scott Harrison disagreed, as the amount is less than what the City of Parksville have committed to the project, which would cost $1.5 million to build.

“The City of Parksville gave five times what we gave initially,” said Harrison. “In this instance, they’ve committed $712,000 and they’re hoping to spend only a maximum of $500,000. They basically use the provincial funds that were doled out in April for that. I would prefer $106,000. I can be happy to go on record saying that. I know it’s not going to get any support but that’s OK. But I’ll be voting against the amendment.”

Skipsey said she was at first very much behind the project until she received correspondence from residents who pointed out the need to improve the recreational facilities at Kwalikum Secondary School (KSS).

“There’s lots of project that could happen there,” said Skipsey. “I am in favour of perhaps taking the money that we would have spent and putting it towards something at KSS in the future. It’s not that we’re not going to spend the money maybe but spend it within our own community would be my preference.”

Westbroek agreed with Skipsey that improving some of amenities at the school is reasonable.

“It’s not that we don’t want to spend that money but I think it’s fair to also consider our own school,” he said.

Coun. Petronella Vander Valk also agreed with putting the rest of the money towards helping KSS improve its recreational facilities.

Harrison pointed out there are gaps in the region’s recreational infrastructure and this decision could impact future support from Parksville for regional projects in Qualicum Beach

“I just want to highlight that there are a lot of projects that need to get built and some of them are a lot more expensive than this track,” Harrison explained. “So if they use the same ratio for another piece of infrastructure like say, the pool, we’ll be in the hole for a lot more money. But I just… you know again, that’s just why I disagree with that.”

Westbroek’s $18,600 amendment to the town’s funding contribution to the track project was supported by council 4-1, with Harrison opposed. The amended staff recommendation passed unanimously.