I’ve taken a lot of heat about Soccer fields in the past three years. It all began when the Recreation and Leisure Advisory Committee recommended that we need a new artificial turf field. It was identified as a great re-investment in our fields, to replace one gravel field with an artificial turf that could be opened earlier in the spring and kept open later in the fall, after the typical rain season begins. I sought advice from parents, coaches, experts with the Vancouver White Caps, and friends who play field sports. I read the reports from everywhere I could. I went back and forth with the cost and the material that would be used. I saw examples from communities all over that have switched away from natural grass.
Grass fields are tricky in a mountain town, as there isn’t much flat land, which is mostly difficult to drain and to maintain. I grew up playing soccer in Ontario where there is a field on every corner, and kids play in the hot, dry summer months. Well, as the lower mainland is mostly warm enough through the fall, winter and spring, their local soccer leagues play then. Here in Whistler, we often have snow on the ground until April or May. We get heavy rain throughout the fall. That only leaves June, July and August to play. The other leagues don’t play then. Conundrum.
I struggled to wrap my head around why Whistler, where we have many recreation and sport options, wouldn’t play when the soccer weather is nice? Why can’t we have grass fields? And, why does it cost so much?
At the end of the day, it was not easy to speak against it. But, I feel that it is important to hear and express all valid arguments. There were local parents, taxpayers, business owners, and others who have experience with these artificial fields imploring me to vote against the field. One local physician emailed me and said that while they wished that every child could pursue every one of their dreams, that simply wasn’t a reality for our small town. So, I took the hard road. The vote was 4 in favour, 3 opposed. The field will likely be built this summer.
Here’s what some people wrote to the paper