A contract has been awarded for construction of the new Karina LeBlanc Field in Maple Ridge, and work is starting immediately on the second of three projects that will see four new artificial turf fields built.
The field named for the now-retired Canadian women’s national soccer team keeper is at Merkley Park. The naming of the new field was revealed as part of the BC Summer Games announcement on March 10, 2017.
Now city staff is in the process of developing one turf field at Golden Ears elementary, and a cluster of four fields – two synthetic and two grass – at Thomas Haney secondary.
Work can begin on LeBlanc field, and will be completed in November. City staff is doing detailed design work on the Golden Ears field, and once work begins it will also take approximately four months to complete, said Valoree Richmond, city manager of parks planning and operations.
She said work on the Thomas Haney fields will be more complex, and take longer. On July 19 staff presented the project in an open house, and got more public feedback online. Comments were positive from users, said Richmond, but there were also neighbourhood concerns about noise, traffic and lights.
She said advances in LED lighting should limit glare and light overspill from the field lights.
The local soccer association president, Jason Salchert of West Coast Auto Group FC, is excited about the improvements. The redevelopment of fields at Thomas Haney, combined with two new turf fields across from Pitt Meadows Athletic Park, will give the association two hubs.
He predicts the demand for the fields will see them well used.
“By the time they’re built, they’re going to be all jam packed,” said Salchert. “All of that field allocation will be used up.”
He is also happy with the process.
“The city… they have been fantastic at allowing all the stakeholders to have a say.”
The Thomas Haney project will include conversion of two softball diamonds to synthetic surface with practice areas and field lines to support fall and winter sports. Three will be four lighted diamonds and a field house. Across the street will be the Golden Ears Elementary turf field.
The city issued a press release about the LeBlanc park.
“This is another milestone as council implements a strong vision around ensuring our community has the facilities we need for our youth to be able to achieve their goals in their chosen sports, live healthy active lifestyles and build the kind of relationships and connections that will launch them into adulthood with confidence and purpose,” said Mayor Nicole Read. “This new field is named for Olympic Bronze Medalist, Karina LeBlanc, who began her journey to represent Canada at the highest levels of women’s soccer playing on the gravel field this new facility will replace. Her story will now be intertwined with this field and be a beacon for her message about ‘dreaming big,’ working hard, making choices and taking action to make your dreams a reality.”
On March 10, she told the story of how she and her brother would go out to that gravel field at Merkley Park and play every day. Her story was recorded as part of the BC Summer Games announcement which can be found on the City of Maple Ridge’s YouTube channel at youtu.be/6pnbEP1fReU (her story starts at 5:30 into the video).
In addition to the synthetic field, the development will include the creation of a new parking lot, lighting enhancements and landscaping improvements for the overall site. Work on the $2.5 million project is expected to commence in August.