For 19 years, Matthew Campbell has driven past the gravel soccer pitch at Port Moody’s Inlet Park and just shook his head, imagining what could be.
Mayor Rob Vagramov said he was tempted to do “one last doughnut” in his car on the facility’s hard surface that’s mostly been used as overflow parking for city events, visiting film crews and construction workers.
That’s all about to change.
Tuesday, the MLA for Port Moody-Coquitlam Rick Glumac announced $4.4 million in funding from the provincial government, along with a boost from the federal government and a $1.65 million contribution from the city to build Port Moody’s third artificial turf field.
The total budget for construction is $6.2 million.
When it’s completed later in 2023, the project will transform the grey, hard-packed moonscape surface that’s mostly been scorned by sports groups for the past several years into a lush, green FIFA-regulation pitch that can be divided into three smaller Super-8 fields for younger players and softball diamonds marked into the corners. As well, two playgrounds will be built at each end along with a new parking lot for 88 vehicles.
Campbell, the president of Port Moody Soccer Club (PMSC), said the facility has the potential to become a “jewel of the city.”
He said Inlet Park is perfectly situated along busy Murray Street, with several new developments being built just across the way along with trails and multi-use paths connecting it to the Suter Brook and Klahanie neighbourhoods to the east, and Rocky Point Park and Moody Centre to the west.
“It’s a beautiful location,” Campbell said. “This should be a soccer field that’s precious to the city.”
Vagramov said the announcement of a new field for Inlet Park has been a long time coming.
“We have to make sure we can no longer park or drive on the soccer field.”
In making the funding announcement, Glumac credited “really good advocacy” work from the city as well as PMSC to tip the scales in favour of the project after several previous attempts over the past 15 years to win financial support had come up short.
Campbell said having a third soccer field in Port Moody that’s usable will be a boon to his organization’s 1,700 members who participate in its youth and after-school programs, along with another 400 adult players.
He said it will allow more games and practices to be scheduled at better times, as well as accommodate larger competitive tournaments.
It will also reduce the strain on families’ bandage supplies, a benefit not lost on Nathan Cullen, the provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs, who also attended the announcement.
He noted the turf will give players a chance to play soccer in a “safer, more comfortable space.”
While Tuesday’s announcement doesn’t include money for a new 320 sq. m. field house that’s also been on PMSC’s wish list, Campbell said the organization’s just happy the first hurdle has been conquered.
In the meantime, it will have to find a new location for storing equipment and convening meetings as the current cinderblock and wood field house that was built in the 1970s will be demolished.