I am the president of Vernon and District Minor Football and the proud parent of three teenage children. My children have played or are currently playing soccer, football, baseball, track and field, gymnastics, figure skating, basketball, dance and music lessons in the Vernon area over the past 17 years.
When I was growing up in Vernon in the ’70s and ’80s, I might not have figure skated or took dance but I did everything else on that list. In my travels as a youth, and now in my travels as a soccer and football coach, plus a sideline parent in all of the other activities, I have always been amazed at the beautiful sports areas throughout the Okanagan. Vernon has always been behind the eight-ball in these areas.
Smaller towns like Winfield and Salmon Arm have soccer/football fields that have lights.
I wonder how many of these people that are against this first-class facility realize that community football players (seven to 18-years-old) end up practising an entire half of their football season at a baseball diamond under lights at the DND grounds.
These diamonds do not magically get square and grow grass around the bases.
Come November, when the only the best teams in the valley are left playing in the playoffs, which Vernon usually is, these same teams get threatened that at any moment they will not be allowed to play on the natural grass as the snow and or rain will destroy them. So right in the middle of playoffs, the teams are forced to practise indoors on a gym floor not in their pads.
I also believe that most people do not know that the best running track is in Revelstoke so any North Okanagan track events ends up being held all the way over in Revelstoke. Vernon is supposed to be the shining jewel of the North Okanagan.
In the paper the other day, it was suggested that people wouldn’t use an outdoor track.
They tried to suggest the lack of people at Polson Park was proof. That is a joke. Have you ever attempted to walk at the Polson Park track? The mud the track is made of sticks to your feet like glue. I really do not believe anybody wants to use a track that is in such disrepair.
In regards to the location, I too believe that it appears it is out of town. But I think people should think about that for a minute. For the people in Okanagan Landing, Mission Hill, Middleton Mountain, Lumby and southern parts of East Hill, this location is closer than the race track, especially in the summer season when the town is busy.
From a population standpoint I would think the areas I mentioned consist of more the 50 per cent of the people in Greater Vernon.
Barry Beardsell had a great message of the financial mismanagement that has been Vernon’s issue for many years. He included many millions of dollars that has to be spent in the years to come. I am not a past city council member like Barry, so I am only speculating but I would assume the majority of what Barry mentioned is already showing up in our budgets and portions of it are being paid by taxpayers now.
The reason most of us are either in sports or are encouraging our children to be involved in sports is because of the lifelong effect sports has on a person’s character, integrity, overall health and general success in the crazy world we live in. This facility only offers more opportunity for people in our city to benefit from participating in sports.
The upcoming referendum is a simple one. It does not have to include any more thought than what I am about to outline. All of the other arguments are only being brought up to muddy the waters and confuse the voter in hopes they vote no which is the easy way to vote when you are confused.
So what as a voter in Greater Vernon should you consider before you vote yes or no? 1) Can you sacrifice $15/year for a good cause? 2) Should youth and adult athletes in Greater Vernon have access to a full-size soccer/football/lacrosse field day and night in all weather conditions just like most other cities in the Okanagan? 3) Should youth and adult athletes have access to a great track in order to practice and compete in track and field, plus just be able to run or walk in clean, well light facility?
It seems easy to answer yes to the above three questions. If it does to you, then please come out April 6 and vote yes for this great facility.