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Myrtle Philip field closures concern sport groups



Groups recommends more fields, maintenance in future

The growing field problem in Whistler tripped over a divot this week when the Resort Municipality of Whistler made a surprise decision to close the lower fields at Myrtle Philip in order to perform some emergency maintenance.

According to sporting groups, a grass volleyball tournament this weekend delivered the final blow to the fields, which they claim were deteriorating rapidly over the summer. Both the adult and youth soccer leagues have been affected by the closure, as has the Whistler Ultimate Disc Society, planned softball tournaments, and physical education classes for the elementary school when the school term begins on Sept. 3.

The closure of the lower fields is expected to last three to four weeks, after which point part of the fields will be reopened once again. In the meantime, both soccer leagues are being moved to the Whistler Secondary school field, which is already being used by rugby and high school sports. While it’s in better shape than the Myrtle Philip fields at the moment, user groups were quick to point out that the high school field is not in the greatest shape either.

Ultimate, which requires a smaller field, is being moved to Spruce Grove. The league season is almost over, but the weekly pick-up games typically continue until the snow starts falling. They used Spruce Grove last year, playing under the lights at night.

Myrtle Philip school will be able to use approximately 30 per cent of the lower fields, including a section that was recently re-sodded and is still in adequate shape.

"It would be difficult to get the lower fields to recover that quickly – part will and part won’t, but most of the damage is due to the hot, dry weather we’re experiencing," explained Bob Kusch of the municipal parks department.

For the school, the municipality has moved up the schedule to complete the renovation to the small upper field at Myrtle Philip for the elementary school. Depending on the availability of the contractor, they hope to have new sod in place within a month.

Sports groups are frustrated because they have been complaining about the condition and availability of fields for years. Some of the ideas proposed over the years include the creation of new fields to spread out the load, improving maintenance, and putting community users ahead of outside renters until new fields can be created.

"Now we’re down to one field for all of the soccer teams and rugby. I’d say the time has come where we really have to think the field situation out, and we have to have a real discussion about what the community needs," said Andree Janyk.