The feasibility of an outdoor artificial turf sport field is being explored.
Artificial Turf Field Project
In response to community discussion and the Recreation and Leisure Master Plan, the municipality has been investigating the possibility of constructing an artificial turf field. Funds for the project are included in the draft 2017-2021 Five Year Financial Plan. Work in 2017 would include confirmation of a suitable site, and with continued Council support preparation of design development through to tender ready drawings. This work builds upon the 2015 Whistler Multi-Use Recreation Facility Investigate Study, the 2016 Outdoor Artificial Turf Field Needs Assessment, and the comprehensive project update provided to Council on March 7, 2017.
If approved, construction would commence in 2018.
Comprehensive Project Update to Council (March 7, 2017)
A comprehensive project update was provided to Council on March 7, 2017. Topics include:
- Needs assessment summary
- Suitability matrix of six possible sites - Whistler Community Secondary School, Meadow Park, Spruce Grove Park, Myrtle Phillip Community School lower field, a brownfield site in Cheakamus Crossing, and Bayly Park
- Bayly Park settlement risk
- Artificial turf health concerns regarding crumb rubber
- Artificial turf recycling
- Capital budget estimates
- Operating budget estimates
- Potential external funding opportunities
- Municipal budget considerations
- Community engagement
- Project Update - Artificial Turf Field Council report (March 7, 2017)
- Artificial Turf Field Project Update Presentation(March 7, 2017)
- Video recording can be viewed online
- Graphic plans showing conceptual development scenarios for each of the six sites
Outdoor Artificial Turf Facility Needs Assessment (2016)
Following the Investigative Study, the RMOW commissioned a detailed Outdoor Artificial Turf Facility Needs Assessment. The purpose of the Assessment was to confirm the need for such a facility and how best to meet these needs. Results were presented to Council at their December 6, 2016 Committee of the Whole meeting. A link to the Committee of Whole presentation is provided below.
Key findings include:
- Locally, regionally and nationally the popularity of soccer is increasing.
- Soccer’s current popularity is influenced by its relatively low cost to participate, gender equity, racial diversity, and increased media profile from the success of the Canadian Women’s National Team and the three Canadian Major League Soccer franchises.
- Regionally, the popularity trajectory is thought to be positive.
- Locally, growth has increase substantially over the last five years and is anticipated to grow further with recent local baby boom.
- There is undemand for additional local hours primarily in early and late season which is a poorer weather and earlier darkness timeframe.
- Adult soccer is capped at eight teams.
- Youth soccer has reduced, relocated or eliminated programs.
- Rep teams home fields are in Squamish.
- Repeat annual tournaments are now being turned away.
- Late outdoor season start relative to the Lower Mainland or Squamish puts Whistler teams at a competitive disadvantage.
- Additional field space will be required to accommodate growth.
Demand and Wear on the Myrtle Philip Community School’s Lower Fields
- The Class B quality Myrtle Philip lower fields are the preferred venue for soccer and other rectangular field use including ultimate Frisbee and grass volleyball.
- Other fields in the community with capacity are not used for quantitative and qualitative reasons including size, poor quality, lack of ancillary facilities, convenience, volunteer effort, and lack of social opportunities.
- The Myrtle Philip lower fields at or very near maximum use during peak times.
- The maximum allowable hours are capped by a field’s ability to withstand demand. Experience has proven that approximately 250 to 300 hours per season is a sustainable level of use. Horticultural standards recommend 250 hours per season. North Vancouver has a 250 hour limit. Previous use of the Myrtle philip fields has exceeded 500 hours, necessitating substantial repair efforts.
- Whistler Youth Soccer Club has been proactive in redistributing hours away from the Myrtle Phillip fields to reduce wear. This has included a combination of relocating, reducing or eliminating programs.
- The number of Spruce Grove baseball diamond field bookings are increasing and there is unmet demand.
- Anecdotally there is unmet ice arena demand.
- 1,450 hours of annual use on rectangular fields by soccer, rugby, football and Ultimate Frisbee
- 1,800 hours of annual slo-pitch softball and baseball use on Spruce Grove fields. The Spruce Grove baseball diamond fields are of near A Class quality, are illuminated providing hours that are not afforded to rectangular field users, and the three clustered diamonds create a social synergy and atmosphere that builds upon itself.
If developed, an artificial turf field with lights would:
- Provide a field-of-play standard comparable to and expected from most other jurisdictions;
- Provide certainty around poor weather;
- Lengthen the available season from 21 to approximately 35 weeks (40%) adding 250 of prime time and 1150 non-prime time hours;
- Remove 420 hours from existing grass fields to reduce wear and allow for other users;
- Allow return of 85 hours of youth soccer programming cancelled due to lack of field availability;
- Transfer 80 hours from out of town play to Whistler;
- Add 30 to 40 hours to meet capped adult league demand;
- Add 30 to 40 hours of anticipated third party programming;
- Transfer 120 hours from indoor to outdoor; and
- Extend existing youth programming by 230 hours.
- Illumination would fully leverage the investment.
In summary, additional field space will be required to accommodate growth, participation levels are currently constrained by lack of hours, demand is primarily but not solely focused on spring season, there are limited opportunities for other user groups, field overuse is an ongoing challenge, and demand is anticipated to continue to increase over time.
- Needs Assessment Committee of the Whole presentation (December 6, 2016)
Whistler Multi Use Recreation Facility – Investigative Study (2015)
In response to community discussion and the Recreation and Leisure Master Plan, the RMOW undertook a Multi-Use Recreation Facility Investigative Study in 2015. The Study investigated the capital and operational costs for an indoor multi-use recreation facility where the primary use is field sports.
Over the course of the Study it became apparent that the cost to build and operate an indoor facility is substantial and with financial risk, and an outdoor artificial turf field of lesser cost and risk should be considered. An outdoor facility is discussed in Section 6 and Appendices E through G. This Study was shared with the Recreation and Leisure Advisory Committee in November 2015 and at the Committee of the Whole meeting on December 1, 2015.
- Whistler Multi-Use Recreation Facility Investigative Study(2015)
- Investigative Study Committee of the Whole presentation (December 1, 2015)
With budget approval the feasibility of the Bayly Park site would be further investigated. If the site is confirmed as viable, Council would be provided with recommendations to advance the project into detailed design and through to construction tendering. Stakeholders would be re-engaged and opportunities for external funding would be pursued.
Phase I: Multi Use Recreation Facility Investigative Study (completed December 2015)
Phase II: Facility Needs Assessment (completed December 2016)
Phase III: Site confirmation, budget estimate and Council updates (Q1 and Q2 2017 )
Phase IV: Design development, construction drawings, tender for construction, Council construction contract review and award (Q3 2017 to Q1 2018)
Phase V: Construction (2018)
To continue to move forward, the project will require the support of the Recreation and Leisure Advisory Committee and Council at the end of Phases III and IV.
Stakeholder and Community Engagement
Stakeholders along with primary and secondary user groups will be engaged directly in the remaining phases of the work. Public feedback will also be received through the annual budget process.
Whistler Recreation and Leisure Master Plan - Detailed Recommendations (RMOW 2015) Specifically Chapter 3 ‘Sport Fields’
Investigative Study Committee of the Whole presentation (December 1, 2015)
2016 Needs Assessment Committee of the Whole Presentation (December 6, 2016)
Artificial Turf Field Project Update presentation from Regular Council meeting March 07, 2017
The live video recording from Regular Council Meeting March 07, 2017 can be viewed online.