Say yes to sports complex

Case pitched for football field and track facility next to Okanagan College in Coldstream

There hasn’t been much talk lately about the new sports facility proposed for construction beside Okanagan College.

The Agricultural Land Commission approved non-farm use for the facility as long as it is built within three years of November 2011. So that means it has been nearly a year with no movement and we have only two years remaining to get this thing built. What are we waiting for?

The purpose of this letter is to bring attention back to this matter and encourage residents to vote yes to a new sports facility when a referendum occurs.

Many people argue that we don’t need a new sports complex. I disagree. Vernon does not have one proper football field or running track. Vernon Minor Football plays all of its home games at Grahame Park on a beautiful field. However, it does not have proper football uprights, change rooms, or lights.

Polson’s running track is a disgrace. It is a dirt track and when it rains, it is filled with puddles and gets very messy and virtually unusable. A new rubber track will help our track athletes and distance runners with their training and will also be much easier on their joints.

Most competitive track athletes do not use the dirt track at Polson. They choose to train at Kelowna’s Apple Bowl or Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, which have a rubber track.

I don’t blame them as I would prefer to run on the same surface as I would be competing on. Nobody hosts track events on a dirt track anymore and haven’t for many years. I believe that football and track athletes along with all of the citizens of Vernon deserve better.

How many ball diamonds and soccer fields do we have? We have many, and I think that’s great. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for one proper football field and track.

The proposed field will be made with artificial grass, which offers the benefits of being able to host a playoff game. Currently, if a Vernon football team earns the right to host in the playoffs, they have to travel to either Kelowna or Kamloops to play on the artificial grass field as per playoff rules. There goes home field advantage.

The new facility would also have lights, which would allow teams to host evening games. In Kelowna, they have all of their high school football games on Friday night under the lights. Hundreds of students, parents, and fans come out to cheer on their team. It is such an amazing atmosphere and makes for a great night out. The facility will also have change rooms, an electronic scoreboard and more. I don’t think I need to sell you on the importance of these items.

The sports complex will benefit so many people, not just football and track athletes. All field sports will have use of the field.

I’m sure soccer would love the idea of being able to play after dark. From what I’ve seen, field lacrosse and field hockey are growing fast in Vernon as well. All citizens would have the use of the rubber track for walking and running.

I see so many people walking around the hard surface of the upper ring in the Wesbild Centre. How much nicer would it be walking around a forgiving, rubber surface outdoors overlooking Kalamalka Lake?

It is estimated to cost taxpayers $8.5 million for the complex, roughly two-thirds the price of the $12 million library that opened in May (strangely, I don’t remember that going to referendum). It was reported that the average cost per household would be between $17-$20 annually (or five cents a day). That’s only four to five café lattes a year. We can afford that.

Let’s do our community a favour and vote yes for the sports complex.

Tim Thorpe

Vernon