West Coast Soccer calls for more turf fields

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows needs more than three fields

After a winter rife with game cancellations, the local soccer association will be going to municipal officials asking for more turf fields in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Misty Thomas, executive director of the West Coast Auto Group FC, said even as the new turf field at Pitt Meadows Secondary was opening,  there was recognition that the community needs more than the three it has. That point was driven home in the 2014 season.

“It’s exacerbated in a winter like the one we’ve just had, where so much gets cancelled,” said Thomas.

The association will ask for a cluster of fields, with a field house, washrooms and ample parking. She knows the multi-million dollar project may be a long time coming, but wants to know the priorities for Parks and Leisure Services.

“It’s a matter of being on the radar with the (recreation) commission,” she said. “It’s an ongoing dialogue.”

“Other communities in the Lower Mainland have committed to building out artificial turf fields and converting their grass fields.”

She clarified the soccer players are not being prima donnas. They are willing to play in the rain, on a muddy grass field. But the parks department closes fields when they get too wet, to keep the grass from getting ripped up.

“If all the fields we have access to were playable all year round, we would be fine.”

David Boag, director of parks and facilities, doesn’t have to be sold on the value of turf fields. He estimates that one can accommodate the same usage as about eight natural fields. Generally, grass fields are playable for three games on each of Saturday and Sunday, and then must be left the rest of the week.

However, he said the initial cost of turf is high. Pitt’s cost $2 million, and was only possible with funding from the school district, the soccer club and with a provincial grant.

The fields last about 12 years, then the surface can be replaced for $500,000.

He said staff has recommended planning about four synthetic mini soccer fields at Albion, but is awaiting the direction of council .