Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

More field space at Rollo McLay Park is on its way as the parks and open spaces committee voted in favour of adding an all-weather playing space while supporting staff to look into locations for a new sports field facility on Gabriola.

The Area B POSAC received a report from staff at their May 13 meeting that proposed an 18m x 36m gravel practice field to the west of the upper grass field. The existing portable toilet and privacy surround would be relocated or replaced.

POSAC’s discussion included contemplating whether the gravel field would have a boundary perimeter, demarcated with movable logs, for example, or not. A permanent barrier would reduce the size of the field and could block vehicles that may need to cross it such as first responders and to access the concession stand, members said.

The field could be permanent or temporary and move forward this year. Parks staff said they could meet with groups on site, including soccer groups and emergency services, to measure out field size options.

RDN parks planner Jordan Vander Klok said whether the gravel field is permanent relates to whether a new facility is developed.

“If there is a future field elsewhere then perhaps the gravel field could be viewed as more temporary.”

POSAC also voted in favour of developing a staff report that includes options for a new sports field facility with costing, timelines and potential land options.

Area B Director Vanessa Craig questioned the benefit to pursuing a new facility before the electoral area’s recreation and parks master planning process is complete (a final draft was initially scheduled to go out for public comment this spring).

“It feels like we’re leaping over the master plan process and placing this as a higher priority,” Craig said, noting that the master plan process for Cox Community Park – in the past a potential location suggested for a future field – was pushed back until completion of the Area B plan.

Staff acknowledged that a sports field report could conflict with the results of the master plan if completed first.

Costing would also be estimated in today’s dollars.

Susan Yates, trustee for the Gabriola Local Trust Committee, spoke in favour of a new sports field. “My personal goal for the master plan process is to have another site for a much larger sports field.”

The Rollo McLay gravel field is costed at $20,000 and would come out of the $278,000 of provincial Growing Communities funding allocated to Rollo McLay upgrades. The remaining $258,000 is proposed to be allocated to a future sports field facility.

POSAC member Kyle Clifford asked if there was leeway for that funding to be utilized for an indoor facilities space, another need that has been discussed in the context of the master planning process. Staff said the funding can be reallocated based on the results of the master plan.

An RDN map from the May 13 POSAC Agenda package, showing roughly where RDN staff say a gravel practice field could be created at Rollo McLay Park. RDN graphic

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