Improvements to Blackburn Park, including an outdoor skating rink, top the list of city projects that will be included in an application for $400,000 under the provincial Community Recreation Program.
City staff recommended the Blackburn Park project would best fit the grant criteria, which focuses on projects that make communities healthier and more active.
Along with raising the existing gazebo and installing pipes underneath so it can be used as a free skating rink in the winter, improvements listed in a staff report would include: redeveloping Pitch #2 to a championship field to be used for football, rugby, lacrosse, field hockey and soccer; redeveloping the baseball diamonds for increased use; creating a three-metre-wide perimeter pathway for walking, cycling, jogging, in-line skating and cross-country skiing and for access to an exercise-station circuit; and development of non-mainstream sporting facilities including the addition of a hard-surface court and beach-volleyball courts.
Carl Bannister, the city’s chief administrative officer, noted at Monday’s council meeting that the city’s list contains other worthwhile projects such as: 2) construction of the CP Railway pedestrian overpass at 17th Avenue NE; 3) construction of a walkway on Lakeshore Road from 10th Avenue NE to 20th Avenue NE; 4) construction of a third ice sheet at Sunwave Centre; 5) construction of an indoor tennis facility and 6) major maintenance of the SASCU Recreation Centre.
Proposed funding for the $1.1 million worth of improvements at Blackburn Park would include $295,000 of third party and other grant funding; $135,000 for each of three years from the City of Salmon Arm; and $400,000 from the provincial grant, if successful.
The park is already a joint venture, with a number of third parties such as the three Rotary clubs contributing to the new accessible playground there.
Dale Berger, manager for the Shuswap Arena Society, addressed council, making a pitch for upgrading the community centre.
“It was built in 1986 so a lot of equipment is reaching the end of its lifetime. There are a number of issues with mechanical and structural – we could use this opportunity to possibly get a really good upgrade in the facility.”
Mayor Marty Bootsma said he understands that maintenance is low on the list of priorities for grant approval.
Coun. Ivan Idzan emphasized his support for putting Blackburn Park top of the list, because many of the improvements needed have been on the books for 20 years. He said it’s time to complete “what should be the crown jewel of our park system.”
Coun. Kevin Flynn asked about the way the projects were numbered by staff, referring to the third sheet of ice, which he said council already decided is a non-issue.
Bannister said numbers one and two – Blackburn and the pedestrian overpass – are in order of priority, but the rest aren’t.
Bootsma said the community supports Blackburn.
“I’ve spoken to many people and, to a man, everyone agreed… They’re particularly excited about the outdoor ice arena, it’s on everybody’s mind.”
Regarding the tennis court, Boostma said he’s told Winston Pain of the tennis club to apply to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, which has three similar grants available.
Flynn moved that council provide a motion that an application from the tennis club be considered as a late- agenda item at Thursday’s CSRD meeting.
Council unanimously approved both that motion and the ranking of Blackburn Park as the first priority for the city’s grant application.
Coun. Debbie Cannon was absent.