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EDITORIAL: About time Ballenas track project started gaining some real traction

Mayor: 'So let's get it done'

It’s about time.

It would appear (and we say appear, given the glacial pace of progress and numerous roadblocks thrown up) that the long-planned running track upgrade at Ballenas Secondary may be finally on the right path to actually get done.

Of course at this point, we’ll believe it when we see it, but the latest news on the project is encouraging.

For that encouragement, we look no further than Parksville Mayor Ed Mayne.

This was the mayor’s quote as recently as September of last year:

“I have a real concern of what we’re doing here,” said Mayne. “And yeah, I know it’s gone on forever, if you ask me to vote on whether we should keep going forward with this or not, my vote is we terminate this discussion and put it out of its misery.”

Contrast that with our latest story:

“We’re getting real close to a number where we can start to have construction on this,” said Mayne. “It’s only been going on since what 2008 or some ridiculous time from there. So let’s get it done.”

That is progress right there and is a tribute to the many who have worked so hard on this project for so many years.

One of the biggest problems facing the project has been the endless layers of bureaucracy involved.

READ MORE: RDN: Parksville track upgrade project gains some traction

The Oceanside Community Track Committee, which consist of representatives of the school district, track and field groups, Regional District of Nanaimo, City of Parksville and Town of Qualicum Beach, aims to raise $1.5 million by the end of the year.

Getting that many different groups to agree on anything can be remarkably difficult. And it too often seems the RDN isn’t set up to best serve residents outside of Nanaimo.

Manager of recreation services, Dean Banman, informed the committee at its meeting on June 10 the school district and community partners’ fundraising initiatives have gained significant traction.

This includes donations, sponsorship and applications for grant funding that makes the project a feasible undertaking.

We’re tired of having things bounce from committee to committee, then back to the board, then back to committees, then over to a different board and on and on. All of a sudden, 10 years have passed, nothing is accomplished and you see kids running on a dilapidated, unsafe track.

Staff recommended the RDN board approve a Community Works Funds compliant contribution agreement to be entered with School Distict 69 (Qualicum) to secure community access and to fund the upgrades. It will also include an RDN funding of $204,000.

The agreement will ensure the public will have adequate access to the track and that both capital funding for future repairs and annual operating funding for regular maintenance are in place.

The plan is to create a six-lane rubberized training track with construction expected to start early next year and completed by the fall of 2022. Great news. So let’s get it done.

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