Walnut Grove Community Park will soon join the growing list of places in Langley Township with synthetic turf playing fields.
Funding to convert an existing all-weather gravel field to synthetic turf was approved by council last month.
The total cost of the project is $950,000, with contributions of $350,000 from Langley United Soccer Association (LUSA).
LUSA will pay for one half of the construction costs, with five equal payments over five years, and in return will receive priority use and a reduced field booking rate for five years.
In addition to upgrading the gravel field, the project also includes installing a permanent baseball backstop, improving the drainage of the existing sand turf soccer field and improving lighting at the northwest baseball diamond.
According to a staff report, “the existing north gravel surfaced all-weather field at Walnut Grove Community Park is under-utilized for soccer as soccer teams give preference to lighted synthetic turf fields for evening practices and weekend games.
“The existing lighting system and established granular base presents ideal conditions for converting this field to a synthetic turf playing surface. This has been tested at Aldergrove Athletic Park where a similar existing gravel all-weather field was converted to a synthetic turf field at half the cost of building a new synthetic turf field.”
“I think this is excellent, I think this is the way to go,” said Coun. Charlie Fox.
“We’ve seen our sports fields usage increase dramatically, we’ve seen the quality of the sports increase dramatically, and I think this meets a need.”
However, Fox did say he is concerned that this arrangement may look like favouritism of certain sports groups.
“I just want to make sure that in the effort of fairness and the effort of trying to treat each organization that uses our fields — and there’s many — that everybody will be treated equally and no one user group would be getting … a better outcome than any other user group.”
Township CAO Mark Bakken told council that adding this turf field will help with field capacity, as having LUSA move to Walnut Grove will free up the turf fields they are currently using.
Coun. Kim Richter echoed Fox’s comments, adding that other sports groups have the opportunity to make similar arrangements, if they wish.
“I think that is a very fair arrangement if these groups are going to come up with a large chunk of capital money to make an artificial turf field happen, I think it’s fair they should get some priority use,” she said.
Staff have identified four other locations where gravel all-weather fields could also be converted to synthetic turf: Noel Booth Park, Aldergrove Athletic Park, Brown Park and Brookswood Secondary School.
“Funding partnerships can be explored with field sport organizations in Langley who may be interested in securing more practice and playing time on synthetic turf fields,” the report says.
“If such funding proposals are secured, staff will report back to council identifying the opportunities and funding considerations.”