Monday, April 15, 2024
April 15, 2024

New Portlock concept floated

Salt Spring officials got a preview of the latest concept for Portlock Park last week, and a plan for improvements at the site may be near to satisfying the user groups who first clashed, then collaborated on it. 

The new draft found space to keep the oval track while still including a new senior ball field, shifting 58 parking spaces — and the pickleball courts — to the southwest corner of the property and repositioning the soccer field. It’s an efficient design without much wasted space, something Capital Regional District electoral area manager Dan Ovington said was necessary to try to fit in the many components local groups had said were the most important to them. 

“I spent a lot of time working with the landscape architects to see if there was a way that we could keep the track as well as the senior ball field,” said Ovington, who brought the latest draft plan to Salt Spring’s Local Community Commission (LCC) Thursday, March 21. “If we look at relocating the entire parking lot to the west side of Portlock Park, there is room for both of those larger entities.” 

Developing a master plan for the site was identified as a priority in 2019 as a strategic planning process for all the island’s parks was laid out; public engagement has been long and often spirited, as different park users expressed varying desires for the what-and-where of facilities.  

Ovington suggested getting further feedback on the latest proposal from the major user groups who have been most engaged in recent months — including baseball, soccer and pickleball players, as well as track walkers, all of whom have collaborated on designs —and that he bring that information, along with any proposed changes, back to the LCC. 

“There will also be a kind of ‘global view’ marked out as well,” said Ovington, which would show how future build-out at one field or facility would fill in another’s gaps — such as adding more pickleball courts to the Rainbow Recreation Centre site. Commissioners lamented the cost of repositioning what might seem to be otherwise functional facilities just a few metres, but Ovington pointed out that every part of Portlock Park was either at, or near, its operational end-of-life. 

“When we’re talking about the track, for example, as far as drainage, the borders, the material,” said Ovington. “You can’t even get that red cinder material anymore. So, as we look at replacing this aging infrastructure, we’re deciding where the best location for it is — on this site, or at another.” 

Approximately $20,000 of a $30,000 budget has been spent on the project to date, according to a staff report, which noted while additional architectural services can likely be funded under the existing budget, the extra staff time needed will probably necessitate a reprioritization of the year’s work plan, as plan development had been expected to conclude in the fall of 2023.   

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