School district says no track in Summerland

A Summerland group is asking the Okanagan Skaha School district to follow through on a promise made almost two decades ago.

A Summerland group is asking the Okanagan Skaha School district to follow through on a promise made almost two decades ago.

At issue is a track and field complex that the Summerland Heritage Advisory commission said they were promised in 1997, but was never built. School board chair Linda Van Alphen said no such promise was ever made.

“The decision at that time was that the Ministry (of education) wasn’t going to fund a track,” said Van Alphen, adding that they remain committed to that decision.

“The board is not about to build a track. There isn’t the space to build a track,” said Van Alphen. “If a track is built, it would be built on the same premise that the track out here (Penticton Secondary, sponsored by the Rotary club) was built, it was a community partnership that built that track.”

In a letter to the school board, David Hill, acting chair of the Heritage Advisory commission, said the dispute traces back to 1995, when Summerland council and the school board joined forces to study locations for a new middle school. That resulted in the destruction of MacDonald Elementary School, a recognized heritage building (six months newer than the 1921 Shatford building) and the track and field complex on Dunham Field in 1997 to make room for the new school.

Van Alphen admits that it has been a longstanding conversation, but the maps don’t indicate a promise to build a track complex. She pointed out that the request is coming from the heritage commission, not Summerland council.

“The ministry and the board are not in the business of building tracks. We are in the business of schools and students,” said Van Alphen.