- BC Games
Ten-year strategy to update Coq. sports fields
Coquitlam has kicked off an ambitious multi-million dollar program to update some of its worst sports fields over the next decade.
City council adopted a $10-million sports field strategy in July, just after it voted to spend up to $4 million for a new indoor sports court at Dogwood Pavilion.
The 2013-’23 sports field strategy comes as city staff this fall re-open the city's agreement with School District 43 to consider future costs, access and expectations for shared use.
Of Coquitlam's 75 sports fields — 42 of which are soccer-sized while 33 are ball diamonds — utilized by 28 organizations, 44% are on SD43 land.
Under the current agreement, SD43 provides the properties (22 for playing fields, 11 for ball diamonds) while the municipality maintains them.
Under the new sports field initiative, which was developed in co-operation with sports groups and the Coquitlam Field Sport Association, Coquitlam has set out a priority list of fields to improve over the next 10 years at a cost of $10.15 million. They are:
• 2014 — replace grass with artificial turf at Town Centre North ($2.5 million);
• 2015 — replace artificial turf carpet at Dr. Charles Best secondary ($1 million);
• 2016 — replace grass with synthetic/grass mix at Mackin Park North and South ($1.3 million);
• 2017 — rebuild a grass field on city-owned land ($400,000);
• 2018 — replace artificial turf at Fridge field, Town Centre Park ($1 million);
• 2019 — replace artificial turf at Mobilio field, Town Centre Park ($1 million);
• 2020 — rebuild a grass field on city land ($400,000);
• 2021 — replace artificial turf at Cunnings field, Town Centre Park ($350,000);
• 2022 — rebuild three grass fields on city land ($1.2 million);
• 2023 — replace artificial turf at Percy Perry Stadium ($1 million).
According to a city report, there are 16 sports fields in Coquitlam that are up to 19 years past their life span. Among those in the poorest condition are: Mountain View elementary (Hartley), Scott Creek middle, Victoria Park, Rochester (Maillard middle), Ranch Park elementary, Miller Park elementary, Mundy Park 3 and 5, and Town Centre Park North and South.
Kathy Reinheimer, Coquitlam's parks and facilities manager, told The Tri-City News last week that Town Centre North was picked first for updating as the field is not only 1.5 times larger than a soccer pitch but, because of its central location, can host other community events. Currently, as part of its tourism drive under the Celebrate Coquitlam policy, the city is pushing Town Centre Park as its premiere destination site for sports tournaments and festivals. As well, she said, the conversion of Town Centre North to a synthetic turf field would also increase available practice time.
Besides rebuilding sports fields, the new strategy also calls for city staff to look at more participation in sports. Since 2001, participation rates have dropped overall — from 70 per 1,000 residents to 57 per 1,000 today, which is lower than other cities of the same size.
The types of sports people are interested in has also changed over the past 10 years in Coquitlam, the report notes:
• soccer: up 4%;
• baseball: down 34%;
• softball/slo-pitch: down 47%;
• field hockey: up 402%;
• field lacrosse: up 145%;
• football: up 7%;
• rugby: up 100%;
• athletics: down 21%;
• cricket: down 7%.
Reinheimer said the new strategy is designed to be flexible to take into account evolving demographics — especially with the aging population — as well as community needs and trends.
For example, sports seasons are now longer than 10 years ago (for soccer, for instance), participation starts at a younger age and adult activities are expanding for baby boomers. In addition, there is a focus on high-performance and academy training, the report states.
As for the strategy's $10-million price tag, Reinheimer said it's doable. Council already budgets for $775,000 a year for the sports field program plus $1.5 million in maintenance, although she said the city will also be applying for senior government grants to help rebuild the older fields as well as exploring the concept of having sports groups pay (or pay higher) fees for field use.
The 2013-’23 strategy follows the 2002-’11 sports field visioning document, which saw $25 million spent on new infrastructure.