A handful of soccer fields are open for use with the rest set to open by May 28. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Delay of game: late spring means Whitehorse sports fields aren’t ready yet

‘We’ll be working as quickly as possible to allow the sports groups access’

While the first day of spring was technically more than a month ago, Yukoners looking to get outside on the territory’s sports fields shouldn’t be lacing up their shoes just yet.

Thanks to wintery weather, and a rather late freeze, most of the sports fields aren’t quite ready for use.

Brittanee Stewart, communications analyst with Yukon’s Department of Highways and Public Works, said although it’s tempting to get out and start exercising with the improved weather, most of the fields are still too wet and too soft.

“Using wet, muddy fields before the grass starts growing and reestablishing itself can cause damage that lasts for several years,” said Stewart.

This year’s frost layer is also particularly deep, so field irrigation systems cannot be used yet.

Once the fields dry up, Stewart said, the field maintenance program kicks off.

That program includes things like removing litter, raking, removing dead grass, aerating, watering, weeding and edging.

After that work can be done, the fields will be opened — ideally by May 28.

“We’ll be working as quickly as possible to allow the sports groups access to the site,” said Stewart.

Currently, Stewart said, Whitehorse Minor Soccer has access to a handful of fields.

Takhini Elementary, Hidden Valley Elementary, Golden Horn Elementary, Whitehorse Elementary, F.H. Collins Secondary School and Holy Family Elementary all have fields in use by WMS.

Softball Yukon takes care of the softball fields in Whitehorse and says all the diamonds, including the Robert Service Way fields, used for minor softball are now ready for use, but the start of the season was delayed a week.

As far as adult softball in Whitehorse goes, the Pepsi Softball Centre diamonds are nearly ready for use but the fields known as Takhini 3, 4 and 5 are still covered in snow, ice and standing water.

Although the weather may be warming up, until the fields are fully prepped for the season Stewart says the public’s best move is to wait — even if it feels counterintuitive.

“It’s a hard thing for people to understand because you think, ‘Oh, the snow is off the field — I can use it,’ but there is all this behind-the-scenes stuff just to get it ready so it can be used now and for years to come,” said Stewart.

The one exception will be the track and field at F.H. Collins Secondary School. It’s undergoing $8.1 million worth of upgrades. Construction is scheduled to start in June and be completed by October 2019.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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