City still hopes to grow Rayleigh ball fields

Trade show, equestrian centre still eyed for Kamloops facility.

The Rayleigh ball fields opened this year, adding another feather to the Tournament Capital’s sporting image.

Now, the city is trying figure out what to do with the third of the property that remains empty.

The Rayleigh lands have long been envisioned as having a trade show/equestrian component, but the city is not prepared to put funds into building a facility.

Byron McCorkell, director of parks, recreation and cultural services, said the city continues to wait for the private sector to step up and develop the lands.

“I would think in the next couple years we will see some interest coming in the private sector to discuss further how a trade-show facility might come to Kamloops,” he said.

McCorkell also noted any type of facility would likely be dependent on the completion of an RV park on the site, which the Tk’emlups Indian Band has indicated it intends to build, but has not given a timeline.

The city also wants to talk to the Kamloops Exhibition Association (KXA) to see how that group would like to use the land.

For now, the KXA has some of its equipment and material stored in a space near the ball fields.

As part of the original purchase of the Rayleigh lands which, at the time, was in the agricultural land reserve, the city was required to return about 20 acres of land into production.

McCorkell said it would make sense to use the land for growing hay to supply an equestrian facility.

In 2009, city officials were talking with a private group interested in developing an agricultural complex and trade show space on the 300-acre property but, after a few initial meetings, it heard nothing back.

McCorkell suggested the city needs some type of large trade-show space.

He noted other communities like Langley and Abbotsford have facilities with 100,000-plus square feet of space.

It’s a size the city would also like to have available.

Any trade shows in town now are usually set up in the McArthur Island Sports Centre, but that building only offers about 65,000 square feet of space.