Soccer players rally for outdoor sports complex

A small group of soccer players, parents and coaches gathered in front of Whitehorse City Hall yesterday to protest the recent vote that denied the territorial government permission...

A small group of soccer players, parents and coaches gathered in front of Whitehorse City Hall yesterday to protest the recent vote that denied the territorial government permission to build an outdoor sports complex in Whistle Bend.

Kathleen Lanigan, a 14-year-old player with the Yukon Strikers, said she’s tired of playing on poorly-maintained fields.

She brought a sign that read “We are playing soccer on a dirt patch.”

“We’re protesting because they said no to the sports complex and all our fields are trashed,” she said.

“The conditions are terrible, the fields are unsafe and they’re full of gopher holes. We’d like to have a safe place to play soccer.”

There are about 14 soccer fields scattered around Whitehorse but the only one of regulation size is behind Christ the King Elementary School.

Vehicles honked as they drove by on Second Avenue while Lanigan and several of her teammates waved colourful signs.

The territorial government had proposed to build two artificial turf fields and a rubberized track on a four-hectare parcel of land in Whistle Bend.

But the city needed to pass a zoning amendment bylaw before the government could move forward with its $5.5 million project.

At Monday night’s council meeting, following an hour of tense debate, a tie vote defeated the bylaw.

But that won’t discourage local soccer players from letting the city know they need new fields to play on, said 14-year-old Jayden Demchuk, who has been playing soccer for almost 10 years.

“We go on trips down south and it’s hard to perform at our best,” she said.

“We play on artificial turf, which we’re not used to, and our fields are all uneven. We’re hoping the city will change their minds.”

She said the field behind Vanier Catholic Secondary School, where the team usually practices, had recently been vandalized.

Someone drove onto the field and did doughnuts with their vehicle, Demchuk said.

“We’re supposed to train on these fields for the Western Canada Games,” she added.

At one point, Whitehorse Minor Soccer president Grant Zazula brought a soccer ball over and young children started a makeshift game on the lawn next to city hall.

Another person passed a petition around in support of the outdoor soccer complex, which 20 people had already signed.

There are approximately 1,300 registered soccer players in the territory.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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