Regarding the two options recently proposed for Turner Park at the Sept. 7 council meeting, I’m in favour of Option One, a regulation-sized ball field, a dog park, a playground and bookable event space. Option one also provides dedicated parking, which Option Two does not. Most survey respondents said they will travel to Turner by car.
Option Two, “The Commons,” has no ball field, instead open grass space, surrounded by a larger dog park and playground space, plus a multi-use court.
The outside consultant presenting referenced Kelowna’s Rowcliffe Park as an example of a useful “Commons” type park suitable for Turner.
But Rowcliffe Park is fully surrounded by multi-level, multi-tenant buildings where residents have no personal yard space. Turner Park is surrounded by single family homes, most, if not all, having personal yard space. Different parks for different residential situations.
A ball field would be used for predominantly evening games from April to late June, and would be available most other times, and outside of ball season, for all other activities. The town would control the field/game scheduling.
Ball fields easily become common space for soccer and other activities, as already demonstrated in communities throughout the province.
But the opposite doesn’t hold true. A commons area can never be a ball field (no backstop) and, unless flat, cannot be used for kids soccer either. Turner already has two corner backstops.
Peachland has a ten-team coed slo pitch league for 20 to 40-year-olds, and a seniors Peachland coed slo pitch team (full disclosure: I play on the seniors team). This represents 165 adult Peachlanders playing slo pitch from mid-April to the end of June. The seniors team plays until August, but only on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
Given existing growing demand and future opportunities for Peachland kids to play on both Peachland baseball and soccer teams, it is a mistake to not have a ball field/soccer pitch at Turner Park.
Over the past five years, over 200 four to six-year-old Peachland boys and girls have learned to play soccer and baseball through the Peachland Community Centre. I know, because myself and other like-minded Peachland adults have taught them.
Given the lack of fields and facilities though, every Peachland kid must go to West Kelowna to play organized little league and soccer once they turn six. That is simply not right.
It is downright shameful that Peachland kids can’t play on Peachland teams because we don’t have facilities for them.
West Kelowna Soccer won’t let Peachland kids play together on the same team. I know because I coach there and have repeatedly tried, unsuccessfully, to make that happen. They allowed it for a six-year-old Peachland boys team three years ago. The Peachland kids did quite well together, but the club decided not to allow it again, dispersing the Peachland kids onto a number of other teams. That’s okay, it is not West Kelowna’s job to allow Peachland kids to play together. That is our job.
My view is a community cannot grow in spirit unless it gives its kids the opportunity to play on community teams.
Besides promoting an active lifestyle, community team sports allow kids to learn social skills and develop lifelong friendships with their community classmates and neighbours that are far more important than any sport specific skill they will ever learn.
Peachland has a lack of sports fields. Turner Park already has two baseball backstops used previously by an extremely popular Peachland little league. We can bring this back, but only if taxpayers are given back one of the ball fields at Turner Park.
Having two ball fields in town will also allow Peachland teams to generate Peachland business revenue through organized ball tournaments, not possible presently with only one field.
Including a ball field at Turner will allow both kids and adults to regain their ball field in the most populated single-family area of Peachland plus give Peachland kids the opportunity to finally play on baseball and soccer teams again in our community.
Council did the right thing by buying back Turner Park. I hope they continue to do the right thing and vote for Option One, which will give the most recreational opportunities to the greatest number of Peachlanders, young and old.
Randey Brophy, Peachland