No one could blame the Salt Spring Parks and Recreation department for having strategic planning fatigue.
The organization’s strategic plan was updated after many years with a process that began in 2017 and completed in 2019. That followed completion of a Centennial Park master plan in 2016 and preceded the Rainbow Road recreation site master plan process, which saw a final report issued in August of 2022.
The next major chunk of land up for dissection was Portlock Park, with stakeholder consultation followed by a full public survey and then a second survey asking for input on three different configuration options, but with no consensus forthcoming. That’s primarily because both a ball field for older youth and an oval running/walking track were not shown together on any of the options. It automatically pitted one major park user group against another.
To their credit, representatives of those groups and pickleballl players decided to get together in September to see if they could come up with a solution that made everyone happy. They then presented four different configuration ideas, noting one that was preferred, to Capital Regional District (CRD) parks staff, assuming the dialogue would continue. Members of that group were understandably upset to see that last Thursday’s Salt Spring Local Community Commission (LCC) agenda contained a recommendation for the LCC to adopt a master plan concept that did not include a running track. Staff said none of the collaborative group’s concepts allowed for enough parking and/or the current building used for things like parks maintenance staff, a soccer concession and washrooms. At first blush it seems as if the building could be removed and/or replaced with a smaller version, especially if moving parks maintenance headquarters to the CRD’s Kanaka Road property is envisioned.
Going beyond Portlock Park to assess the island’s recreational needs and what amenities exist both now and in the future is also important, but always keeping in mind that baseball fields have long been a priority.
After years of strategic and master planning exercises, one can understand the desire for CRD staff to have the Portlock Park box ticked. But we urge them to keep working with engaged community members to find a solution that works for all.