Protest sparks park watering changes

Since moving to their Glenora home last summer, Liz Ringrose and her family have been distressed about the goings on at the ballpark adjacent to their property.

It’s not the crack of the bat or cheering of fans that sometimes go late into the evenings. Those are happy sounds.

It’s something, Ringrose said, that "doesn’t seem like it’s within a normal distribution of behavior."

Every day for 12, 18 hours – and even sometimes around the clock – one of the park’s volunteer caretakers waters the fields with a water canon.

In the summer. During a drought. "When we moved here, our neighbours across the street, who have lived here for 40 years, told us not to use our sprinkler too much because when people use too much water they noticed it," she explained.

So the constant watering of the ballfields perplexed Ringrose. If water in the area was so precious, why was it continually permitted to drench left field?

Surely there was an explanation? Surely the grass didn’t need that much water?

"We started asking questions to get a general understanding of it," she explained. Through her digging she learned she’s not the only neighbour worried about the overwatering. One neighbour has gone so far as to walk over and turn the water off.

Ringrose was told by the caretaker that there was "plenty of water" but is concerned about the practice’s long term effects to the area’s water supply.

Unlike a river where you can see the effects of the water loss right away, the effect of the constant draining of the aquifer won’t be known for years, she said. "I don’t know what’s going on under the ground and I don’t really want to find out the hard way."

A private ballfield, Waldon Park, otherwise known as the Glenora ballfields, is not owned or maintained by the Cowichan

Valley Regional District. It’s owned by the Glenora Community Association, whose president is Frank McCorkell.

"It’s the community’s ball field but we let it out to clubs that run it," McCorkell said, acknowledging many of the neighbours’ concerns are generally legitimate and sometimes the volunteer caretakers get a little carried away.

"There’s one fella there…he’s stretched what he should be allowed for sprinkling and we’ve had a talk and I believe it’s been resolved," McCorkell said. "He can’t continue doing this, it’s ridiculous. Whether we’re in a water shortage or not, I said, that’s not feasible. I told him it’s not doing the grass any good at all."

McCorkell said his eyes are on the park more these days, making sure the water is turned on and off within reasonable time limits.

"I’m going to watch him and if he gets carried away, I’ve told him that maybe we’ll shut the whole thing down. What they were doing at that point in time when I got informed about it was ludicrous."

Ringrose still feels compelled to continue to monitor the situation as well to ensure the water is not wasted.

"If it gets used all up then what happens then?" she wondered. "During these drought conditions, there’s not tons of water in any place. And if we have tons of water then we should be conserving it."