Whistler's female hockey players and visiting players could have their own designated dressing room if the funding for a Meadow Park Sports Centre (MPSC) renovation falls into place.
Council has set aside $1.2 million in funding from the Recreation Works Reserve — a savings fund with a current balance of $2.7 million — based on a successful grant application to the federal government.
The project is contingent on a $400,000 grant, or more, from the new federal Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program. The recently announced program recognizes Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, with $150 million invested over two years to support projects that will rehabilitate existing community facilities across Canada and ensure a lasting legacy.
If successful, the municipality has several plans for upgrades to the centre, including a universal change room in the arena, a new multi-purpose room, and upgrades to the entry.
"We have a grant opportunity that's once in every 50 years," said Roger Weetman, manager of recreation services, in his presentation to council, of the rationale for quickly responding to this grant program.
He admitted, however, that the project is a little like putting the cart before the horse — work is currently underway on a feasibility study for long-term upgrades to the centre. This opportunity, however, is too good to pass up.
In B.C., about 13 per cent, or 5,609 girls, played hockey this past season. The Whistler Minor Hockey Association has 21 female players out of 207.
"This number is growing," stated a draft report on the proposed improvements. "Every 'house team' has three to four girls on their rosters. On most game days that number is doubled with a similar number of girls playing with the visiting teams."
In most cases, girls are asked to change in bathrooms or referee rooms before joining their teammates for pre-game team activities.
"Meadow Park is being asked to host more tournaments particularly during the spring and summer months," states the report. "In 2015, all weekends are booked in the summer. The addition of another dressing room would ease the pressure as visiting teams come and go."
This portion of the project, which would transform the current North Shore Credit Union meeting room into the universal change room, is estimated at $150,000 ($300 per sq. ft. x 500 sq. ft). It is located in the same hallway in the arena, at the top end of the four existing dressing rooms.
A new meeting/multipurpose room will be created to make up for the loss of space from the North Shore Credit Union room. The current room at 500 square feet brings in $3,000 a year in revenue from rentals to hockey groups, child minding, and birthday parties.
The new room could be located beside the front door. An expanded room is expected to grow rental revenues by $20,000 a year.
This portion of the budget is estimated at $218,750 ($350 per sq. ft. x 625 sq. ft).
The project could also include exterior work including trail installation and parking lot safety improvements.
"Staff have received numerous reports of 'near misses' with regard to pedestrians and in particular children as they navigate through the parking lot to the centre," states the report. "These 'near misses' occur at least once per week."
Municipal staff has been looking at upgrades to the MPSC through a feasibility study. This study will be part of the Recreation and Leisure Master Plan, now in its final phases and set to be presented to council this summer. Options on the table include: expansion of the aquatic facility with therapy pools and an underwater treadmill, and an improved indoor water slide, as well as an expansion of the arena roof to possibly have an enclosed/heated viewing lounge area.