Mike Davies

Robron field: benefit or blunder?

It seems everyone in town falls into one of two camps on the whole affair

The machines are tearing up the field, the new artificial turf is on order and soon Campbell River will have a centrally-located all-weather field for various organizations to book for use.

It seems everyone in town falls into one of two camps on the whole affair.

The first is that this endeavour is a waste of taxpayers’ money.

The $2.27-million project is seen by many as taking funds away from other, more urgently-needed projects, and that many people will see no benefit from the project.

The “Waste of Money” camp also cites the 2008 referendum – which shot down council’s plan to borrow $20 million for a variety of projects, one of which was the Robron field – as proof that the community doesn’t want this expense.

The other camp is the “Hooray for infrastructure improvements and investment in our children’s future!” group.

This group is the people who see the value in spending public money on recreation and outdoor activity opportunities.

They argue that outdoor team sports and recreation enhances the physical and mental health of our children, making this a worthwhile investment in the future.

I fall somewhere in the middle of these two camps, though I lean towards the latter group, I think.

I do believe that there are other things that the city needs to address, and that many of them should have come before the installation of this new sports facility.

I disagree, however, that the public voting against the city taking out a $20-million loan equates to the public saying $2.27 million shouldn’t be spent on a sports facility upgrade.

I also disagree that people who don’t use the field itself will see no benefit from it.

Every time a sports team doesn’t come to town, local restaurants, hotels, grocery stores and other businesses lose out on that potential revenue.

I guess what I’m saying is this:

Yes. There are improvements that need to be made to our city.

Not everyone will agree what those are, or where they should fall on the list of priorities, and that’s great.

The world would be a boring place if we all agreed all the time.

But why do we even have elected officials if we are just going to demand they ask us every time they want to spend public funds on things?

Mayor Andy Adams made the Robron Field project one of the main pillars of his platform during the most recent municipal election.

Coun. Larry Samson’s re-election platform was almost entirely advocating for more family-friendly activities and facilities, by my recollection.

Coun. Michele Babchuk pledged her support for the project if elected and won a seat on council in her first attempt – with the second most votes of any candidate for council.

Don’t we want our elected officials to do the things they say there were going to do when they asked us to vote for them?

I certainly do.

If we don’t like the decisions they make on how to spend our money, we tell them that by voting them out next time we get the chance.

For now I’ll wait and see how the new field works out before I rail against its installation, because the people we elected to govern us said it was something they were going to do before we did so.