How do you appease young ball players and dog owners eyeing the same piece of coveted property?
That’s the question Osoyoos Council will tackle Monday when it sits down for a regular meeting.
The discussion follows a July pitch to Council from Osoyoos Minor Baseball Association (OMBA) to relocate an existing West Bench dog park across town and make space for a dedicated minor baseball park.
“Other than minor hockey, minor baseball is the largest organized youth sport in Osoyoos,” Council heard in July. It was also told the program cannot progress to the next level without a dedicated field.
In fact, last spring the association moved its games to facilities in Oliver after teams in other Okanagan communities expressed concerns about playing on improvised fields in Osoyoos.
OMBA suggested the dog park be relocated to Kinsmen Park in East Osoyoos, noting the park “could be converted easily with a small run of fencing to a totally contained dog park” and that it is in walking distance to a large population of the town and would serve as a better location than the current West Bench Field dog park.”
The conundrum developed when dog owners who frequent the existing park with their pets got wind of the association’s suggestion.
A paper and online petition began to circulate and quickly hundreds of signatures were collected opposing the move.
It’s not that dog owners are against the ball players having a place to pitch and bat; they just don’t want to lose their facility.
Monday, Council will hear the Community Services Advisory Committee agrees a minor ball diamond is needed, but not necessarily at the cost of the current dog park.
A report from Administration notes “In order to convert the dog park, you would have to remove the gazebo, install a shale infield, and a pitcher’s mound. A portion of the shade structure may be salvageable.”
The Town’s administration instead is suggesting a a budget review of the costs and design potential for two ball diamonds in the Desert Park infield.
“These diamonds would be sized for minor ball and slow pitch use and include shale infields, pitching mounds and fencing,” the report suggests.
Administration does, however, give some credibility to the OMBA pitch.
It’s second recommended option — should Council balk at building a diamond or two at Desert Park — would be to bring to budget discussions the costs to convert the dog park back into a minor baseball diamond and develop a dog park at Kinsmen Park that is compatible with the current playground area.
Whatever Council’s direction, Administration says it needs it now.
“Given the requests of both user groups, there will be a need to work the development of the identified facilities into the 2018 capital project implementation schedule,” the report reads.
“This action delays the decision on future facility use and development until March, unless pre-budget approval is provided.”