Funding is now in place for the City of Nanaimo’s next artificial turf field project at Harewood Centennial Park.
The federal and provincial governments announced the next round of infrastructure grant recipients this week, and the City of Nanaimo’s Harewood Turf Project was one of 57 successful applications in British Columbia.
The city will receive exactly what it asked for in the grant application, $3.28 million, including $2.53 million from the provincial government and $750,000 from the federal government. The city will be required to contribute at least $1.19 million, and Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools will also be a funding partner in the project.
According to a news release from Infrastructure Canada, the pitch complex will include two synthetic turf pitches – both large enough to accommodate full-size soccer or high school football games – as well as lighted and covered players’ benches.
“It really creates multiple uses there,” said Richard Harding, general manager of parks and recreation for the city. “The great thing about artificial turf is that it keeps you playing and playing.”
Spectator and scoreboard amenities will depend on how far the city can stretch the dollars, Harding said, as the priority will be to build the two playing surfaces and get them into shape. He said designs and tenders will take place this year, with construction expected to begin next spring and grounds to open in 2023. The goal is to prepare the grounds for a busy fall sporting season.
Harding said that in non-pandemic years, demand for artificial turf bookings exceeds supply.
“Particularly for games,” he said. “Because one of the things people love about artificial [turf] is that they never have to cancel a game, or very rarely.
The school district’s partnership means John Barsby High School will have access to the grounds during school hours. It also means new ground for the Barsby Bulldogs football programme, and coach Rob Stevenson said he was “over the moon” to hear that grant money had been provided for the project.
He said this type of project is not just about infrastructure, but an investment in people, and he gave advice from his hat to everyone involved.
“There will be countless hours of people from all walks of life and all types of activities using this domain,” he said.
The Regional District of Nanaimo also won an infrastructure grant and will receive $559,000 from the provincial government and $372,000 from the federal government for a water supply improvement project at Whiskey Creek. A total of $110.3 million in joint federal-provincial funding has been announced for 57 community, recreation and green infrastructure projects in British Columbia
“By investing in accessible community infrastructure, we are ensuring that British Columbians in all corners of the province benefit from vibrant and well-connected communities,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Municipal Affairs for British Columbia, in the press release.