Whistler soccer players and coaches are pleased to hear that a new artificial turf pitch may soon be up and running in Squamish.
Whistler teams head south almost every weekend in the spring to face off against Squamish rivals
"This field will be great for us because it means we can get on the field earlier and play later into the season," said P.J. O'Heany, president of the Whistler Youth Soccer Club.
He admitted that he would like to have seen a new field at Cheakamus Crossing but it is a good alternative for Whistler soccer players.
The provincial government has come to the game with a $500,000 contribution to the field project.
West Vancouver-Sea to Sky MLA Joan McIntyre announced the funding contribution Wednesday, March 21 at the all-weather fields at Brennan Park.
The money from the Ministry of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development will be added to the $500,000 the District of Squamish has budgeted for the project from the 2010 Sports Legacy Fund created for Squamish by the 2010 Olympic Winter Games organizing committee (VANOC) and $100,000 the Squamish Soccer Association has raised.
The new money from the province combined with the VANOC legacy money, the SSA contribution and money committed from the District of Squamish amounts to a fund of $1.5 million.
"A range of community groups in Squamish have been working together with the district for a long time to achieve these upgrades," said McIntyre. "A modern playing field will allow greater opportunities for both youth and adults to play the sports they love. I am thrilled that they received this much-deserved provincial support that will ensure the upgrades go forward."
Kirkham said a new field would extend the length of the playing season in Squamish.
"The District of Squamish is thrilled to have government support to create a new field with state-of-the-art turf," the mayor said.
According to a news release issued during the event, the existing gravel fields at Brennan Park in Squamish are "inadequate from a public safety perspective" and the grass fields are "often flooded."
The previous Squamish Council determined that the largest portion of the legacy fund left to the community by VANOC should be spent on the construction of an artificial turf facility, but staff estimates have put the cost of the project as high as $1.8 million. The figure presented by DOS staff at a meeting on Feb. 7 did not include amenities like change rooms, parking, lighting and fencing.