Plans for outdoor sports complex still alive, says proponent

Despite being shut down twice last year, the group pushing for the construction of an outdoor sports complex in Whitehorse isn't giving up just yet.

Despite being shut down twice last year, the group pushing for the construction of an outdoor sports complex in Whitehorse isn’t giving up just yet.

Tony Gaw, chair of the Yukon Outdoor Sports Complex Association, said he’s still scouting locations for the facility that would include two artificial turf fields, a rubberized track and bleachers.

“We just keep going,” he said.

Gaw said he’d look at a few spots in Whitehorse as part of the group’s due diligence but doesn’t expect any of them to be big enough.

He still believes the site at Whistle Bend is the ideal location for the project, which was estimated to cost $8 million.

“If we want to continue with our two-field plan we can’t scale down,” he said.

“(Yukon) Soccer (Association) would be happy with that but we still have a lot of interest from other user groups.”

In December, members of Whitehorse city council shot down a plan to build the outdoor sports complex in the Whistle Bend subdivision.

The 4-3 vote was identical to the one on April 27 last year, when the Yukon government was denied permission to build the facility.

In both cases, the government had assured the city it wouldn’t be on the hook for any of the costs. But ultimately, that wasn’t enough to sway a majority of council members to approve the zoning amendment.

The Yukon Outdoor Sports Complex Association had been picked to manage the facility and be responsible for any operation and maintenance costs.

The group had hired a sports architect as part of the design stage. They ran their numbers by him and he agreed the facility could be run for about $50,000 a year, Gaw told council in December. Plans would see the association cover its operation and maintenance costs with user fees.

City councillors have expressed skepticism and worry the city could ultimately end up on the hook if costs prove to be much higher. Councillors Betty Irwin, Roslyn Woodcock, Jocelyn Curteanu and Mayor Dan Curtis all said it was too early to bring the project back to the table in December.

“I think the timing isn’t right,” said Curtis at the time.

“My concern is that given the past six months, nothing new has come forward. I would have preferred to let this (bylaw) die and a new one come forward.”

Other concerns raised by council included the lack of public consultation with Whitehorse residents.

Gaw said he’s provided all the information that mayor and council need to make an informed decision.

“This is a Yukon government project, tendered by them, paid for by them. They already confirmed they would cover any operations and maintenance costs above what we can’t,” Gaw said in December.

With the start of the new outdoor season only one week away, he said only a few of the city’s 16 fields are adequate for soccer.

For the past three years, at the end of every summer, the Department of Education allocates $25,000 towards repairs to the most damaged fields.

That includes picking up litter, power raking, removing dead grass, aerating, watering, weeding and edging.

There was no mention of soccer field maintenance in Premier Darrell Pasloski’s recent budget speech, but it did include mention of $150,000 for new moveable soccer goals.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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