City council delays vote on sports complex

City council postponed a vote on Monday evening that would have decided the fate of a proposed outdoor sports complex in the Whistle Bend subdivision.

City council postponed a vote on Monday evening that would have decided the fate of a proposed outdoor sports complex in the Whistle Bend subdivision.

That’s disappointing to Tony Gaw, head of the Yukon Outdoor Soccer Complex Association and one of the main proponents of the project.

“We’ve gone through this for a long time now and we think we’ve answered all their questions, and provided all the information that’s needed,” he said following the unanimous vote.

“We can’t understand why the city would make these decisions, especially for a facility like this that would provide so much benefit to everybody.”

At Monday’s meeting, council members were expected to debate the second and third reading of a zoning amendment bylaw for a parcel of land in Whistle Bend.

The Yukon government needs the city’s approval to build the seven hectare, $7-million project, which would feature two soccer fields with artificial turf and a rubberized track.

The government would own the facility and lease it to the association, which would manage the day-to-day operations.

But council has had reservations about the project since it was publicly brought up during a meeting in February.

Mayor Dan Curtis said he felt it was moving along too quickly, and wondered whether the city would be left on the hook for operations and maintenance costs in the future.

City council also expressed doubts about whether $50,000 would be enough to cover those costs annually, a figure that was mentioned in an earlier design proposal.

The territorial government has maintained it would look at covering any shortfalls in operations and maintenance costs.

Gaw maintains the city has known about this project for more than a year.

On Monday, Coun. Mike Gladish proposed a motion to postpone the vote for two weeks, saying he needed more technical information from city administration.

He suggested holding another council and senior management meeting, to get more input.

Some of the city’s questions about the project remain unanswered, he said in an email afterwards.

“I asked questions […] regarding the possibility of building part of the outdoor complex within the existing zoning,” he wrote.

“The question was not answered. Other councillors had similar questions during the week and wondered about options for different configurations for the fields and track.”

Meanwhile, Gaw said a request for proposal had been issued for the design of the complex and awarded to Associated Engineering, the same company that submitted a draft proposal last year.

“We’ve been going through the design process for the last week or two and hopefully we’ll be able to put it to use,” he said.

At a recent public hearing, nine residents with backgrounds ranging from Athletics Yukon to the Whitehorse Minor Soccer Association told council members about the benefits of having such a complex in Whitehorse.

They argued Whitehorse’s soccer and track-and-field facilities are in a state of disrepair, and preventing local youth from developing into better athletes.

Council also received 39 written submissions about the outdoor sports complex, 37 of them in favour of the project.

Second and third reading of the zoning amendment bylaw is now scheduled for the April 27 meeting.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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