Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick (left)

Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick (left)

Ground broken on complex

An Olympic-sized track and artificial field are expected to renew interest in sports, particularly among local youth.

It isn’t hard to imagine a runner soaring over hurdles or a tackle on the 40-yard line.

As heavy machinery pushed dirt around, local politicians and sports enthusiasts gathered Wednesday to kick off construction of the sports facility next to Okanagan College.

“This ia a great thing for our community,” said Bill Tarr, a minor football coach.

“It will spur on a lot of community pride.”

An Olympic-sized track and artificial field are expected to renew interest in sports, particularly among local youth.

“We are tremendously excited,” said Ian Cameron, head coach with the Vernon AAA Track and Field Club.

One of the challenges for the club has been the lack of a regulation-sized track in Vernon. Many athletes have had to leave town for training.

“There’s a huge push for Paralympics and we couldn’t touch that before,” said Cameron.

Earlier this year, Greater Vernon residents voted to borrow $7.5 million for the sports complex.

Earth work is currently being done and over the winter, final design details will be established.

The construction portion of the project will go to tender in the spring and the facility should be completed by November 2014.

“It feels good to see it start,” said Jim Garlick, Coldstream mayor, after the groundbreaking ceremony.

““It will really help the college and the community. It improves the entrance to Coldstream and Vernon.”

Okanagan College has suggested the facility could allow it to develop some new courses such as sports medicine.

Patrick Nicol, Regional District of North Okanagan chairperson, anticipates that a range of residents will use the facility.

“Think of the minor football, lacrosse and track and field that can happen here,” he said.

“Everyone is running these days. People 50-plus will benefit.”

There is also an anticipation that the facility will bolster the economy by hosting large events such as the B.C. Summer Games.