By SUSAN GORDON
Re: “Park groups aim to collaborate,” (Driftwood, Sept. 27), I am thrilled about the collaborative multisport group resulting from the initial CRD proposal offering three options for reconfiguring Portlock Park.
I have unofficially dubbed the collective of passionate baseball dads, soccer coaches, runners, walkers and pickleball players the Salt Spring Multisport Coalition. Hopefully, it will become a permanent part of this community.
A huge “thank you” to Local Community Commission (LCC) member Ben Corno, who took the time to confer with a small group of Portlock enthusiasts as we chatted outside the Lions Hall after the LCC town hall held on Aug. 31. After acknowledging the concerns of various sports representatives, Ben offered to help coordinate future meetings among the interested parties and act as a liaison between park users and the Capital Regional District.
As of this week, the newly formed cooperative has created a fourth proposal based on each faction listening and learning from the others. While needing to work with compromises on the 9.5-acre plot that is Portlock Park, it is possible to satisfy each sport involved with its use.
This optimal situation happens when a community pulls together, and we all strive to understand the differences and common denominators that unite a broad-based population.
As it turns out, the mothers and fathers of young team players on this island have many concerns beyond developing successful athletes. Without the offerings of organized sports for kids beyond age 12 on this island, parents are worried about the number of youth gravitating to “alternatives” that include a draw to the drug culture and the pathway of substance abuse addiction that plagues far too many people in the community. As someone who has previously devoted considerable attention to the issue of youth at risk and the prevention of the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, I cannot stress enough that we need to pay much more attention to this subject than is currently expressed anywhere in Canada.
For seniors and those who enjoy a brisk walk without hills, Portlock is the only safe place on Salt Spring to do so. For those who run, an oval track is imperative for safety reasons and distance-specific training. Providing options for all sports at the facility is critical to developing island youth, allowing kids to find their preferred activity. While playing on a team is perfect for some children, others may find their talent in track and field events.
I want to give a big shout-out to the coaches, both current and future, who chose to take the time to become National Canadian Coaching Program trained and certified, devoting endless hours and interest in the delivery of programs via the long-term athlete development protocols that allow kids to discover their likes and talents through play without pressure.
We can do this, Salt Spring!
The writer is coach of the Salt Spring Sneakers running club.