Maple Ridge council wants four new artificial sports fields by the new year

Maple Ridge council wants four new artificial sports fields by the new year

City now checking with school board, to see if it agrees to new fields at Thomas Haney, Eric Langton

Maple Ridge will have four new artificial-turf fields by the new year, if the school board agrees.

Council asked staff to talk with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school board Tuesday to see if it supports converting two grass fields at Thomas Haney secondary and another at Eric Langton elementary.

Installation of the fourth artificial field is about to start at Merkley Park, near Maple Ridge secondary on 122nd Avenue.

New washrooms and a concession building are also planned for Thomas Haney, creating a small tournament centre.

Parks and facilities director Dave Boag said the city will talk with sports groups to discuss how the fields will be laid out and the markings that will go on the fields.

Lacrosse, rugby, soccer, softball and slo-pitch will all be played at Thomas Haney, which is close to the downtown.

“It’s going to be a great sports complex,” said Boag.

It’s possible to add another two artificial fields at Thomas Haney, but that’s not in the current plans, he added.

Plans are to re-orient softball and slo-pitch fields at Thomas Haney. Synthetic turf will be used for the new softball diamonds – a new approach.

“It’s kind of a growing trend,” to have artificial slo-pitch fields, Boag said.

“We’re trying to get input from as many people as we can, right away.”

Total cost for all four fields will be about $10 million.

The city already has half of that allotted for Merkley Park and from the artificial field that was planned for Albion flats. City council scratched the Albion field last week because of a lack of parking. The city still doesn’t know if a Canada 150 grant for $500,000 for the Albion field can be transferred to other sites.

Bids go out soon for constructing the artificial field at Merkley Park, which will be named after Maple Ridge soccer star Karina LeBlanc.

Boag stressed that council’s first step is to consult with the school board.

“It would be an awesome improvement if we can get this done. It would result in a lot more fields than we were looking at with the Albion parking situation … in places that already have parking, in places, especially with Eric Langton, that could also service the downtown,” said Coun. Tyler Shymkiw.

“It’s very exciting.”

But it’ depends on agreement from the school district.

“We have to think what the school board piece would be, because we don’t have any school board funding to support that,” said school trustee Susan Carr.

She pointed out that artificial fields at Pitt Meadows and Westview secondaries are used by school teams until 5 p.m., after which they’re turned over to community teams.

Carr is also on the board of the West Coast Auto Group Football Club.

“It’s big news. I’m so happy,” said Coun. Gordy Robson.

He expected staff to come back with an update in a few weeks.

To accommodate the construction period, ball teams that use other fields around the city would be asked to adjust their schedules to accommodate those that usually use the No. 1 diamond at Thomas Haney. But construction, otherwise, would be outside the ball season.

Teams that use the two soccer fields at Thomas Haney secondary wouldn’t be affected because those aren’t being touched.

The city will talk to the school board and principal at Eric Langton and try to find alternate sites. But that field isn’t popular with fall or winter sports groups, Boag said.

Maple Ridge News