Repairing city fields too costly: government

Whitehorse has no dedicated soccer fields because they're too costly to maintain, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Highways and Public Works.

Whitehorse has no dedicated soccer fields because they’re too costly to maintain, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Highways and Public Works.

This explanation may seem a little odd, given the Yukon government’s willingness to splurge on a new $7 million outdoor sports complex for the city. The project has been justified, in part, by the poor condition of existing fields.

As it stands, local soccer players have been playing on what the department calls “multi-sport fields,” said Doris Wurfbaum.

“A dedicated soccer field uses more resources because it’s held to a higher standard than a multi-sport field,” she said.

“Soccer fields need to be cut more often, fertilized more often and top-dressed more often.”

Tenders were recently issued for the annual maintenance of 16 multi-sport fields in the city.

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

Work is anticipated to begin at the end of May, Wurfbaum said, to allow the grounds to thaw properly.

And 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, she added.

But that’s not nearly enough to make the fields adequate for soccer, according to Whitehorse Minor Soccer Association President Grant Zazula.

“From what I know … only about eight of the fields are actually usable for soccer,” he wrote in an email.

“To actually repair the fields properly – deal with gopher holes, pot holes, the huge bare patches that have been worn down – would be impossible with the allocated funds. The soccer and other user organizations try to rotate the fields so that some of them are allowed to sit and ‘heal’ for a year, but that doesn’t do anything to fix them.”

The holes, along with sprinkler heads, have caused serious injuries to players of all ages over the years, he added.

He knows adults who have blown their knees out and torn ankle ligaments by playing on “hazardous field conditions.”

Artificial turf is crucial because it requires little maintenance and doesn’t get torn up in the spring season, when it’s most at risk of damage, he said.

Last week, council members voted against a zoning amendment bylaw that would have given the Yukon government permission to build two artificial turf fields, a rubberized track and bleachers on a four-hectare parcel of land in Whistle Bend.

Members of the soccer association have argued in the past that players who travel south for tournaments aren’t prepared to play on turf fields.

They also say the current state of the fields is preventing youth from developing into better soccer players.

Based on information submitted by the city’s department of recreation, the poor condition of fields has been a regular issue at annual user group meetings.

In 2013, the property management division of Highways and Public Works asked user groups to identify one major issue that needs addressing.

The groups said it was general overuse of the fields, resulting in large bare spots.

A year later the groups said gopher holes, tunnels and irrigation were also problems.

A suggestion was made to identify four “premium” fields and to focus the efforts to maintain them. But last year, the property management division noted there were too many fields and “too few maintenance dollars.”

Zazula said that in the end, it’s a losing battle.

“If the problem fields were to be repaired properly, they would need to sit basically all of the spring and most of the summer, taking them out of commission for a year,” he wrote.

“And, with so many soccer players and teams, and so few usable fields, this would effectively make the season impossible for many Whitehorse minor soccer teams.”

Contact Myles Dolphin at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During our recent conversation, John Nicholson showed me snapshots of his time working on the Yukon riverboats 70 years ago. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: Yukon man relives the riverboat days after seven decades

John Nicholson took summer work on Yukon steamers in the 1950s

A cyclist rides along the Millenium Trail in downtown Whitehorse on a frigid Feb. 9. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of an e-bike bylaw that would designate how e-bike riders can use city trails. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
First two readings passed on Whitehorse e-bike bylaw

Delegate calls on city to consider age restrictions and further regulations

Whitehorse City Hall at its Steele Street entrance. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Change of plans approved for city hall

Project would see 1966 city hall demolished

A city map shows the property at 107 Range Road. The zoning is now in place for developers to proceed with plans for a Dairy Queen drive-thru. If plans proceed on schedule the new restaurant is anticipated to open in October. (Cyrstal Schick/Yukon News)
October opening eyed for Dairy Queen

Will depend on everything going according to plan

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Joel Krahn/ Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

A bulldozer levels piles of garbage at the Whitehorse landfill in January 2012. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Rural dump closures and tipping fees raise concern from small communities

The government has said the measures are a cost-cutting necessity

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: Hands of Hope, the quilt of poppies

Toilets are important Ed. note: Hands of Hope is a Whitehorse-based non-profit… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

Most Read