An RDCK survey about creating a new recreation facility at Campbell Field at Playmor junction has found strong support for such a proposal – but adds a little confusion about what activities would happen there.
The survey found more than three-quarters of respondents (78%) want to see some sort of recreational activity take place at Campbell Field – though traditional sports like hockey or soccer take a distant back seat in the results.
“The results were all over the map,” says Area H Director Walter Popoff, who’s spearheading the initiative. “A few things came to light… what was surprising was people choosing walking, trail use, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing [as preferred activities] – and we have the Rails to Trails right there…
“It was a little bit of an anomaly. Why would you want another facility when you have the most beautiful trail in the Slocan Valley – well managed, well used – for your cross-country skiing?”
Campbell Field is a 3.5-hectare (8.6-acre) field adjacent to Mount Sentinel Secondary School in South Slocan, about a 20-minute drive from Castlegar or Nelson. The field was gifted to the RDCK in 2016 by the South Slocan Sports Association, allowing local decision makers to "set out with a blank canvas to explore the future potential of the site as a recreation hub” for the area.
The consulting company, RC Strategies, spent the fall of 2020 conducting coded and open-access surveys of locals, community groups and the wider community for their ideas on what should be done to improve the field for users. More than 1,200 people responded to the survey.
While there’s overwhelming support for some sort of facility, the results are far less clear about what kind of indoor or outdoor activities should take place. And there’s not a lot of support for travelling to the site for traditional team sports.
The only activity to generate a majority response from respondents was ‘attending a performance.’ More than three-quarters of respondents said they would drive 10-20 minutes to the field to view a performance. Cross-country skiing, family gatherings, jogging, yoga, birdwatching and swimming were the other highest-rated activities that people said they would travel to the site for.
Hockey, volleyball, basketball, curling all placed in the single digits of preferred activities at the site – perhaps reflecting the majority (57%) of respondents’ age, between 40 and 70.
Less than half the respondents (47%) said they were willing to pay higher taxes for creating a facility – although 62% of people living within 10 minutes of the site were willing to pay more. A full 26% of people were opposed to paying higher taxes for a facility.
“It’s like the consultant said, ‘if it’s like that, at least we’re all on the bus, everyone is still staying on the bus,’” says Popoff. “But the crunch will come when we come down to what people want to develop for the facility, and how much they’re willing to pay for it. That’s when people start getting off the bus.”
RDCK area directors, staff and school district representatives have reviewed the results and continue to discuss the next steps. A more detailed report is expected from the consultants later this year.
“They’ll incorporate the comments received, the views of the ratepayers and stakeholders from the RDCK areas and municipalities, and come back with a working concept,” Popoff told the Valley Voice. “I’m hoping they’ll come back with a capital and operating cost estimates, a partnership model, ownership model, and operating model.”
Popoff says the public will be informed and consulted as planning progresses – and cautions there’s still plenty of work to do before ground is broken.
“We can assure you it’s not likely going to happen in 2021,” he says. “It depends on who wants to stay in and who wants to back out” among stakeholders.
John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice