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Campbell River councillors’ minds turn towards baseball

Graphic depiction of a proposal to turn Willow Point Park into a baseball-focused hub. City of Campbell River Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan Update

As the weather turns fair, city councillors’ minds were turned to baseball at a Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday, March 12.

That’s because baseball users and Nunns Creek and Willow Point parks were the focus of an update on the Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan (PRCMP) given to city council.

The PRCMP will replace the current plan which was adopted in 2012 and the existing culture and heritage plan which has not been updated since 2007.

“A new plan is needed to address challenges regarding aging parks and recreational infrastructure, land availability for field and facilities user groups, increased operational costs, and changing demographics, recreational needs and preferences,” a report to council included in the March 12 meeting says. The plan is in course to be completed by July of this year.

This interim report focused on Nunns Creek and Willow Point parks’ ball diamond options for both baseball and slo-pitch user groups.

The consultant working on the plan met with three ball user groups in the community: the Campbell River Minor Baseball Association, the Campbell River Slo-Pitch League and Campbell River Masters Slo-Pitch. They discussed the current and anticipated needs for ball diamond infrastructure, understanding current growth trends in baseball and slo-pitch in order to gain perspectives on how to accommodate ball field sports in Campbell River, the update report says.

Key themes from these discussions included:

• Baseball and slo-pitch organizations are experiencing growth in programming and leagues, however there are a lack of suitable diamonds in Campbell River.

• Willow Point Park is highly desired, as diamonds at this location are high quality and create a natural “hub”.

• Baseball groups have outgrown the Nunn’s Creek Park site, as well have perceived safety challenges at this location.

• A difference of opinion exists between baseball and slo-pitch groups on the best way move forward with space allocation.

• Lighting may be a potential solution for fields #4 and #5 at Willow Point Park to increase playing capacity in evening hours.

• Ball user groups do not prefer using smaller school or community ball diamonds, as they lack amenities and parking, are of poorer quality and are often not the correct dimensions. User groups prefer the concept of a “hub” of diamonds, such as Willow Point Park.

• The ability to host tournaments is currently limited, resulting in less local spending from prospective visiting teams.

• Partnerships with local First Nations could be a potential option to increase ball diamond and sport field supply, however this would require further exploration.

The hub concept received specific attention in the update with the suggestion that in the long-term, the city could invest in Willow Point Park to create a baseball-focused hub and develop a slo-pitch focused site. The slo-pitch site could be Nunns Creek Park but it has a number of potential drawbacks, the report says.