Coquitlam council has thrown out a proposal by the city’s largest soccer club for an indoor field sports centre.
Coquitlam Metro Ford Soccer Club (CMFSC) pitched the idea last March to contribute $1 million for the new artificial turf facility — as long as it was built on city land, operated and maintained by the municipality and the club got most of the prime-time hours.
The 3,500-member club submitted its private-partnership plan as part of the city’s Unsolicited P3 Proposals Policy, adopted by council in 2017.
The club’s president, Alex Barnetson, told the Tri-City News that CMFSC is frustrated.
"We have been working on this project, in one form or another, for over 10 years and have built up significant reserves to contribute to such a facility," he stated in an email.
According to the business case, CMFSC wants a structure similar to the Poirier Forum.
It estimates the cost at $4 million.
But Lanny Englund, Coquitlam’s general manger of parks, recreation, culture and facilities, said construction bills would likely be around the $7-million mark — not including the land.
And given the challenges to find surplus city space for sports — including, most recently, for tennis and pickleball — the city needs to pass on the soccer proposal at this time, Englund told council at Monday’s meeting.
Englund also noted the lack of interest from School District 43, as well as the ongoing work on the city’s Major Recreational and Cultural Facilities Roadmap, a blueprint that’s listed as a top priority this year and does not include an indoor field sports centre.
Among the city’s initiatives on the 20-year Roadmap include:
- Northeast Community Centre
- Spani Pool
- Planet Ice
- Southwest arts and heritage facility
- City Centre Library
- Fraser Mills Community Centre
- City Centre Aquatic Complex renewal
“Staff have thanked the club for their proposal and their passion for supporting
soccer and youth here in Coquitlam,” Englund told council. “However, staff have also identified issues with the proposal and met multiple times with the club president to discuss some of the issues that need to be resolved.”
Coun. Trish Mandewo said while CMFSC’s bid falls short, the growth in soccer is on the rise. She pointed out that Canada’s men’s team had qualified for the World Cup only the day before, besting Jamaica 4–0.
“I’m disappointed that we can’t make a go of this,” said Coun. Craig Hodge, vice chair of the city’s sports and recreation advisory committee and a former CMFSC coach. “But I understand the numbers. They don’t work.”
Hodge said when he was first elected to council, he toured indoor facilities at the North Shore Girls Soccer Club in North Vancouver and the BMS Coastal Soccer Centre in South Surrey. They are also P3 projects.
But those two facilities relied on the municipality or school district for land only, with the soccer clubs paying for capital and operating costs.
Hodge said he’s disappointed CMFSC couldn’t find another partner to offset the costs.
Currently, CMFSC runs most of its indoor programs in SD43 gyms.
Coun. Teri Towner, whose son and daughter both played soccer with CMFSC for more than a decade, added her thoughts.
“I wish it wasn’t so expensive,” she said. “I love getting to yes… but if Coquitlam tax dollars weren’t constrained and infrastructure demands weren’t what they are, then it would be less disappointing.”
Towner encouraged the club to try again with a new plan.
But Coun. Brent Asmundson said he’d like to see a capital proposal that doesn’t benefit one sporting group. “To me, that doesn’t make sense.”
Mayor Richard Stewart said Coquitlam council is supportive of amateur athletics and “no sport more than soccer” because its financial barriers are low for families and it sets good values for players.
“I would have loved a staff report that said, ‘We can do this,’” said Stewart, adding his 29-year-old daughter plays soccer. “Hopefully, we can continue to work on something.
“Making it so the five year olds aren’t out there in the snow would be kind of cool. I would love to see that happen.”