School board hopes to get on the right track

District wants province, Delta to chip in for upgrades

Tracks at Delta secondary schools have been in a sorry state for a long while, but Delta school board chair Laura Dixon hopes that will finally change.

“The school board has four tracks in our community and they’re not in a great state of repair. It has been our desire for some time to find a way to get the funding (to upgrade them),” Dixon told the Optimist.

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She said the new provincial government appears amenable to provide some level of financial assistance. However, it doesn’t look like the Corporation of Delta is too interested in any kind of partnership.

“We’ve had preliminary discussions with our new MLA (Ravi Kahlon in Delta North) and we have talked about those at the (school board/Delta council) liaison committee saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get all levels of government to the table to talk about doing something to improve the tracks and create community amenities.’”

Dixon said she’s hoping the school board, Delta and province can begin early discussions on what it would take to upgrade the tracks and see what kind of funding partners they could attract. She noted the idea is to create facilities that can be used by the entire community.

“It looks like the door is a bit open with the province, so we’d certainly like to see what we can do,” she added.

At a Delta parks, recreation and culture commission meeting last month, commissioners agreed that track and field facilities on school sites are the responsibility of the school district and province. They also agreed that any consideration of a municipal contribution be predicated on the majority of funding coming from senior levels of government and/or the school district and be proportional to community benefit.

One commissioner noted there is no demonstrated demand for track and field facilities.

A subsequent report from that meeting noted Delta has already identified many parks and recreation projects that add up to $50 million and a track and field facility isn’t among them.

The report also notes there’s no registered track and field clubs in Delta and that any development of such facilities would act primarily for school competitions.

In the spring, council heard from a delegation that included Seaquam Secondary track coach Keith Hayes, Burnsview Secondary track coach Tim Stielow and former B.C. Lion Cory Philpot, representing the B.C. Provincial Football Association, seeking municipal support for a track and field facility and a multi-sport synthetic turf infield primarily for football.

They were informed by parks and recreation director Ken Kuntz there’s no funding in Delta’s five-year financial plan for such a project. Kuntz prepared a subsequent report and gave a presentation at a commission meeting a few weeks later on track and field facilities, which included estimated costs, site considerations and number of participants.

Commission members didn’t seem keen on Delta contributing to such a project, some commenting that residents have already supported the school district and that a number of municipal fields need refurbishment.

Council will debate a motion by Coun. Jeannie Kanakos next week to hold a workshop to discuss possible options. Dixon has put forward a motion for the school board to also discuss ideas.

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© Delta Optimist

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