I find it exhilarating to see the number of opinion pieces that centre around the City of Vernon’s Sport Culture and Art Culture Developments.
This is a great sign that there is motivation for positive change and that need exists. There are most certainly challenges to overcome and the citizens of Vernon have clearly identified the pressing issues. What I have yet to understand is where are the task forces (working groups of volunteers) that are seeking to resolve the problems?
We all have opinions, but creative insight (rather than complaint) leads to solution. The proposed facilities can be inclusive of all community members if there were proper design, programs and access. For example, the track has received comments of ‘limited’ use; however, I don’t see this. An open community facility will offer a haven for everyone to safely exercise on a flat surface and in a lighted facility.
Do older adults really enjoy the cement walls of Wesbild over the beautiful air and mountains of our home? It is either that or safety that brings them there to walk en masse. Beyond 3-4 months of a given year, the track would offer safety and outdoor beauty. I grew up in a town where we the ‘young’ athletes (the so-called limited users) knew that the track was a shared facility. Those persons that walked understood that the inside lanes were their home, those that ran – we used the outside lanes.
Then there were even days of the week clockwise, odd days counterclockwise. The best part were the track meets where the ‘walkers’ came to watch and volunteer. The older adults were cheering for the local kids by name and not because they were related; they were part of a community.
We the athletes got to know the older adults by name and learned a lot about life. Our first lesson was simply smile and say hello. Doesn’t a smile make everyone feel better? Community service organizations rotated running the snack bar – it wasn’t a city monopoly.
Yes, the city received a portion of the proceeds to re-invest back into the canteen and facility but by making money the service organizations had a revenue source, and they invested back into the community. This track is not just about a small group of athletes.
This track is about the health of our residents. Visit the current ‘pit’ in Polson Park and there are moms with strollers, wives with wheelchairs and kids with parents and or grandparents with rollators. Give these persons a chance to have flat ground, a safe place and a community to engage within.
I look forward to the day that the parking lot is full of vans, buses and cars from local retirement residences where the inside lanes are filled with walkers and the outside lane with runners and a local service organization is available with healthy refreshments for purchase. This facility is needed for all; it is fact that one in four Canadians are obese and that the largest factor in losing independence as an older adult is physical inactivity.
There is knowledge and ability in our community; lawyers, contractors, managers, builders and many more that can make this happen ‘by donation’. The proposed facilities can truly be community from development to use. I encourage our elected officials to think outside the box, generate positive momentum and don’t use finances or liability as an excuse.