Nanaimo city staff slipped up when it revealed the Beban Park Social Centre would have its hardwood floor replaced with vinyl.
Prior to the decision, community groups like the Ballroom Dance Society interested in preserving the hardwood were part of a consultation process that recommended refurbishing or purchasing an improved product like sprung hardwood to replace the 35-year old floor.
Then mysteriously and without further consultation, the city decided on vinyl. No explanation was given.
But vinyl doesn’t serve the local community’s need for that space.
The dance society, under strict Dance B.C. guidelines, requires hardwood to hold its annual Island Fantasy Ball, which attracts 600-plus dancers to the Island’s largest hardwood surface and serves as the B.C. championships.
It’s the kind of attraction Nanaimo needs to retain to attract out-of-town visitors, a mandate the new Economic Development Commission is trying to achieve, and serve the citizens of Nanaimo, for whom Beban Park is intended to serve.
If outside trade shows need room, perhaps they should try the Vancouver Island Conference Centre (which, for some reason, has rooms filled with carpet).
The Ballroom Dance Society is right to question not only the city’s floor choice, but the process.
Shifting the community’s facilities from social use to commercial use is not the answer. Nor is deceiving those with whom you’ve consulted, especially when they’ve offered to help pay for the refurbishing or replacement.
If the city could offer a good reason why the switch was made, that would be a good first step. In fact, it might even sweep residents and groups who treasure the hardwood off their feet.