Declining use of ball park concerning for DOC staff

District community parks and facilities manager said, “It’s gone down drastically in 20 years.”

A presentation was made during the DOC regular council meeting. Kerry Milner-Cairns, Clearwater and area literacy outreach coordinator, was given a $500 cheque from council for Raise a Reader.

“I wanted to say thank you,” said Milner-Cairns. “It’s always appreciated, and especially this year, because I do rely a lot on the public’s donations and I know it’s going to be really hard here for everybody.”

She mentioned that she believes the program will see an uptick in kids as more of them may be staying home from school this year. The money will go towards tutoring and services such as photocopying.

There will be a spelling bee this year, on Sept. 23, but because of COVID-19, there won’t be any spectators. The bee, however, will have a superhero/villian theme so everybody can have fun wearing their masks.

Councillor Shelley Sim, who is also a school board trustee for SD73, offered praise to Milner-Cairns as she “consistently raises the most money in the entire Kamloops region.”

“I’d love to take that credit,” said Milner-Cairns in response. “But it’s our community.”

Rent prices in Clearwater a concern

During the council reports, Councillor Lyle Mackenzie mentioned he had been hearing some concern around town about the increase in rental prices.

“It’s huge,” he said. “Rental is the talk of the town right now and seeing some of the prices that they’re going for and it’s making it hard for people to retain employees.”

The influx of workers to the area due to the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion has made rental properties scarce in the district.

“I wish we had the immediate answer to do something about it, but it’s going to be more problems, I think, down the road,” said Coun. Mackenzie.

Mayor Merlin Blackwell agreed and said the next 30 or so months will be a wave of new experiences.

“It’s good that you have your ear to the ground and you are hearing those things as we need those kinds of feedback on all of these issues,” he said.

Capostinsky Ball Park use experiencing steady decline

DOC staff brought a report for information to council during the parks and recreation meeting about the potential future of Capostinsky Ball Park.

“There’s some real concerns in the way ball numbers in town have dropped,” Roger Mayer, DOC community parks and facilities manager, told the Times. “It’s gone down drastically in 20 years.”

Over the last couple decades, use of the ball park has gone from five teams in every age group for both boys and girls, to just a handful of co-ed teams. The town used to uses 10 ball diamonds — now only two are used.

There are many reasons for this decline, however, accoording to the report.

There is fewer youth in the area for sports like minor ball, and there is competition from other sports in the area such as soccer and individual activities like cycling.

The report also states that the organizers of slow pitch in the area could not provide a specific reason for the decline, other than an aging population with minimal growth.

“There’s a lot of space just sitting empty,” said Mayer. “We really want to find a way to revitalize Capostinsky Ball Park and the use of the park and get more kids down there.”

While park expenses over the years have declined, sitting at $20,517 in 2015 and dropping to $13,970 last year, revenue has also declined, leaving a cost to the taxpayer.

And COVID-19 caused both the minor ball and slow pitch groups to lose a full season and may struggle to survive.

Further exacerbating the concern, Mayer said some of the infrastructure may be needing some maintenance and updates in the future.

“We don’t want to be faced with a tough decision, “Well, should we close this park?’” he added. “We’d rather the park be used. That’s the purpose of it.”

One possible idea was to bring in baseball, as most of the province plays baseball, rather than softball, and the diamonds are relatively situated to adapt to the needs of the sport; the fences wouldn’t need to be moved and there are portable pitching mounds that can be dropped so the diamond can still be used for other sports.

The District is also just looking to keep kids engaged.

“COVID-19 is really enforcing a lot more individual activities, which a lot of the time are technical,” said Mayer. “Kids aren’t getting outside and living a healthy, fit lifestyle…keeping kids involved and engaged.”

Sportsplex to open mid-September

The Sportsplex will be moving ahead with the planned open date of Sept. 18.

Both minor hockey and figure skating groups are proceeding with their programs and have put safety plans in place.

The DOC will also be putting up signs throughout the building, but will add extra staff for the first little while to help everyone get used to the new rules, which include limited numbers in the building and one parent per player.

Mayer told the Times that there would be about 35 people in the building at any given time to begin with, and as curling starts up, that number could go up to 50.

But, the building is so big, and with 10 change rooms, people will be relatively spread out.

“I feel very confident that we can create a safe environment for the kids and the adults,” said Mayer.

The Sportsplex will also be moving forward with family skate times, but there will be rules that will be released as they become finalized. But it will still be offered free of charge.

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