Soccer fan not keen on Whitecaps' New Westminster plan

To say I enjoy soccer is an understatement. I played for the NWSS soccer team in the early 1960s and the New Westminster Fastback from the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s and am a Whitecaps season ticket holder.

With interest I read the Whitecaps website where Mayor Wayne Wright discussed the virtues of bringing a USL franchise to Queen's Park. The reasons cited by Mayor Wright are the "tremendous benefits to the city, including a new turf field, video scoreboard and lighting."

There is no reference to reduced community use of Queen's Park as a result of the USL takeover of this site. Queen's Park has insufficient parking for the expected 3,500 spectators and neighbouring streets will bear the spillover.

It has only been within the last two or three years that large high-end lighting poles were constructed and a new natural turf laid with the required substructure. Why does that have to be replaced again? It looks perfect now.

It is bad enough that we lost the Exhibition grounds to fire in the 1930s. Some decades later lobbies were added to the front of both Queen's Park Arena and Queen's Park Arenex, neither of which kept within the architectural design of the original buildings.

The city now wants to redesign a historic baseball field which is aesthetically pleasing and mix it up with metal bleachers replacing the current wooden bleachers. Further, high metal bleachers to be constructed along First Street will change the long views from First Street for the worse.

As a long-time resident of New Westminster, I believe Queen's Park should not be used for private gain by admitting a USL franchise, with infrastructure paid for by the city and also resulting in reduced access of this site by residents.

This is a rushed project, for private gain which reduces public access and further compromises the aesthetics of another Queen's Park facility.

My vote would be for the Whitecaps to look elsewhere and for the City of New Westminster to consider the public use of the park.

Character, history and local use should count for a lot more than the interests of an uncertain private franchise.

John Vegt

New Westminster

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