Cooperation trumps competition in Portlock master plan process
The different user groups that had seemingly been competing to advance their preferred visions for Salt Spring’s Portlock Park master planning process are now collaborating together, according to organizers, who believe the give-and-take will help inform a better plan for all islanders.
The consensus-building was first floated during an evening town hall, held by Salt Spring’s new Local Community Commission (LCC) Aug. 31, as people representing some interest groups that use the park — baseball, soccer, tennis, pickleball, walking and running — said they felt pitted against one another during the public input phase of park planning.
Salt Spring’s Parks, Arts, Recreation and Culture (PARC) project team had begun a survey process early this year as part of developing a 20-year master plan for improvements to aging infrastructure at Portlock Park — identified as a priority in 2019 during PARC’s strategic planning process. And in August, a new survey offered three conceptual designs for the community to pick from, incorporating changes that could have removed the extant running track completely, or avoided building the long-requested new senior ball field altogether.
At the Sept. 14 regular LCC meeting, baseball advocate and coach Blaine Johnson told commissioners that something of a summit meeting had taken place between the various user groups, and that everyone seemed happier working together to craft a plan that functioned— at least, mostly — for all groups.
“We met as a [single] organization,” said Johnson, adding that the group included advocates for baseball, running, soccer and pickleball. “We were all willing to bend a fairly large amount to make a better facility up there. We realized we are willing to all work together [to] make Portlock the best thing we can.”
On Sept. 21, as the LCC continued its meeting, PARC manager Dan Ovington told commissioners he’d since met with representatives of that new multi-user coalition, who were coming to an agreement on what the conceptual design could look like, and would be bringing him a mock-up of the result.
“Which I think is great,” said Ovington. “So then I will take whatever information they give me, I’ll include it with all the information we’ve heard from the community, and I’ll bring it all to the LCC for consideration.”