West Kootenay residents would rather go see a concert than play a sport, according to a new survey being used to develop an empty field located between Nelson and Castlegar.
Last month, the Regional District of Central Kootenay released the results of a survey asking what it should do with the 8.6-acre Campbell Field next to Mount Sentinel Secondary School at Playmor Junction.
The activities listed as possibilities include typical fare such as swimming, hockey and soccer. But the top choice, both as an outdoor or indoor activity, among those surveyed was for a large performance venue.
Of the 1,090 households, 34 community groups and 89 student responses received, 78 per cent said they would be willing to travel to Campbell Field for an outdoor performance. Seventy-six per cent also said they would do the same at an indoor venue.
Joe Chirico, general manager of community services for the RDCK, said the results were surprising.
The field was donated to the regional district by the South Slocan Sports Association in 2016, and it had been assumed to eventually be developed into a recreation complex similar to those in Nelson and Castlegar.
But what residents would rather do with the space, it turns out, is go see a show.
“I think people are pointing at why don’t we get a 2,000 (seat) performance here every once in a while,” said Chirico.
The survey puts a spotlight on a lack of dedicated venues capable of hosting big acts in front of thousands of spectators in the West Kootenay.
Shambhala Music Festival, the biggest music event in the region, is held at a dedicated space exclusive to the festival. The Charles Bailey Theatre in Trail has a seating capacity of just over 700, while the Capitol Theatre in Nelson is limited to 426.
Chirico said the overwhelming preference for events highlights a regional desire, but also doesn’t rule out Campbell Field being used for other activities as well.
Outdoor activities that received support among households included cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, a space for family gatherings, walking and jogging routes, cycling and mountain biking and bird watching or nature appreciation.
There was less interest in skating and field sports such as soccer.
For indoor activities, 59 per cent said they would want classes of various types, while 53 per cent favoured leisure swimming. Chirico said a swimming pool is unlikely to be considered because it would syphon users away from RDCK-run pools in Nelson and Castlegar.
Community groups surveyed meanwhile favoured indoor spaces for fitness and yoga as well as soccer, while outdoor sports such as soccer and football received the most support.
It also appears unlikely, based on the survey, that a rink for hockey will be part of the RDCK’s plans. Only 21 per cent of households said they would travel to the Junction for an indoor hockey rink, while just nine per cent of community groups supported the sport.
Chirico said the stats are in line with a common recreation trend away from team sports towards activities that can include individual or family participation.
He added that whatever ends up at Campbell Field, it won’t be used for just one activity. If a performance venue is built, for example, there will also need to be facilities for recreation as well. He said the field also needs to provide value to nearby Mount Sentinel Senior Secondary.
“It’s not going to be one thing,” said Chirico. “In the past we were able to do that. When there was no arena, we’re going to build an indoor arena with four walls and a roof and that’s as far as our imaginations go. That’s not where people’s imaginations are now.”
Chirico said the next step will be for the regional district and its consultants to build several different concepts for the space using the survey results, which will in turn be presented back to the public.
Click here to read the entire survey.
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.