At the November 18, 2013 Nanaimo Council meeting, Caledonia Park came up on the agenda. Staff were to provide Council with an update on options concerning Caledonia Park and the Rotary Bowl.
It looks like another land swap between the City of Nanaimo and School District 68 is taking shape again. The School District wants full market value for the land but the City of Nanaimo doesn’t want to pay the price. Meanwhile, the City of Nanaimo is already in phase 1 of rezoning Caledonia Park border area to a residential development.
1) Who owns Caledonia Park and Rotary Bowl?
2) What are the options to upgrade Caledonia Park and the Rotary Bowl?
During the council meeting Mayor Ruttan mentioned that the City of Nanaimo owns Caledonia Park, this was also mentioned in the report prepared by City staff.
This contradicts the statement by Mr. Jamie Brennan School District 68 Chair, who wrote in late August, 2013 that Caledonia Park and the Rotary Bowl are actually owned by the School District.
If School District 68 owns the land why would the City of Nanaimo be looking at doing the renovations? Has there been a land swap between August and November 2013?
Caledonia upgrades postponed:
An improvement process for Caledonia Park was presented to the Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission in 2012. This plan was to address field improvements, pedestrian and service vehicle access improvements, grandstand upgrades, lighting, and washrooms. However, in 2013, City recommended that the Caledonia planning process be postponed.
City Council was given the option of spending $250,000 on temporary upgrades for Caledonia Park, but this was voted down at Monday’s Council meeting. Instead, Council voted to put the issue to the budget committee.
The problem: nowhere to host provincial championship games for football:
The City report states:
“If Nanaimo wishes to host the BC Lions Training Camp, or a Vancouver Whitecaps professional soccer match, there has to be a venue available that offers high quality field amenities…
Two sites have been viewed in the last five to eight years as preferred locations for the redevelopment of a stadium facility – Caledonia Park and the Rotary Bowl.
The development of a lighted artificial turf field with a new stadium that seats about 1 ,500 is contemplated with the following amenities: portable seating, change rooms, washrooms, concession, ticket sales, a media/broadcast booth… Based on facilities in other communities, the cost of this [project] is expected to be in the $6 million range…“
Rotary Bowl Redevelopment Study:
Rotary Bowl is owned and managed by SD68. In 2011, the City of Nanaimo, SD68, and VIU undertook a Rotary Bowl Redevelopment Study which determined that the infield is not usable as a sports field. Also, they decided that no action would be taken on the Rotary Bowl and City efforts were directed back to Caledonia Park.
Nanaimo District Secondary School (NDSS) Master Plan:
The findings of the Joint Rotary Bowl Committee (above) contradicts the NDSS master planning process, which considers Rotary Bowl ideal for the City, School District, and VIU to consider significant upgrades.
On June 26, 2013 the School Board 68 approved the 10-Year Enhanced Fadlities for Leaming Plan. One of the key initiatives of the plan is to rebuild NDSS, and move the District Administration Centre and facilities. SD68 could then sell this unused property to the City.
In the meantime Nanaimo Council is playing strange games of ’what to do now?’ What is the real plan for Caledonia Park and Rotary Bowl?
In the end, will Caledonia Park facilities fall apart and continue to be neglected? Or is the City waiting to build a multiplex?
In the meantime, the Nanaimo Track and Field Club has signed up for a charity fundraiser to raise money for night lights. Next summer, Nanaimo will be hosting the BC Summer Games , what state will Caledonia Park be in next year?
A side note: Councillor Diane Brennan was present for the entire discussion on Caledonia Park, was she not aware that SD68 owns the land? Mr. Jamie Brennan, her husband, is the Chair of SD68.