It started with a plan to build a new soccer field in Aldergrove. But it culminated with the creation of two artificial turf fields, a parking lot, and a cash surplus that will help maintain synthetic playing surfaces throughout Langley for years to come.
On August 30, members of Langley Township Council and Aldergrove soccer associations gathered for the official opening of the new soccer complex at Aldergrove Athletic Park.
“All of this was accomplished thanks to dedicated partnerships, savvy financing, and good timing,” said Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese.
“This is an example of what can be achieved when people are committed and proper planning is in place. Sometimes everything just works. And in this case, local athletes and the entire community will benefit.”
Funding for a new artificial turf field at the corner of 27 Avenue and 268 Street was initially approved by Township Council in the spring of 2011 after local soccer associations expressed the need for year-round playing surfaces. At that time, funding was also committed for a parking lot expansion.
The project was endorsed by the Langley Outdoor Sports Advisory Group and a budget was set at just over $2 million, with Aldergrove United Soccer and Aldergrove Youth Soccer working together to contribute $50,000.
But the soccer clubs had a bigger and better idea - they wanted to see one of the adjacent gravel practice fields also converted into a synthetic turf field, and said they would help pay for it.
The second field would be 80 per cent of the size of the main field and would allow soccer players to use the surface all year long. The soccer associations pledged just over $200,000 - half of the cost of the additional field’s construction - to the project, with $135,000 to be contributed in the first year and the rest to be paid off over five years.
Inclusion of a second field was kept in mind and worked in as the project was designed and tendered.
According to Township Parks Design and Development Manager Al Neufeld, those processes were completed quickly, which was good news for those financing the project.
“It was perfect timing,” Neufeld said, as favourable market conditions meant the Township was able to secure contractors for the work at a great rate in early 2012.
“We got really good pricing because we went to tender in early January. And since the second field was included throughout the tendering process we knew what we were getting into and how much money the soccer groups would have to raise.”
The Aldergrove community also raised money for the complex and the Township received two grants totalling $58,000 from Tire Stewardship B.C.
Jason Barnes, vice president of Aldergrove Soccer, and Bill Ede, president of Youth Soccer, presented the Township with cash installments on that day. Aldergrove Credit Union representatives Brian Thomasson and Angie McDougall also presented $5,000.
Aldergrove referee and instructor Art Bandenieks brought along ten young refereeing graduates for the opening ceremony and the honour of being the first to play on the new fields.
Artificial turf is infilled with sand and tiny pellets made from recycled B.C. rubber products, which hold the turf down and keep the “grass” standing upright.
In the end, construction of the main field and parking lot came in under budget and a surplus was left over. A large portion of it was applied to the construction of the second field and Township Council supported using the remaining $62,000 to create a Synthetic Turf Asset Replacement Fund. Artificial fields have a ten-year life span so the surplus has been put aside to replace other turf fields, starting with the field at McLeod Athletic Park in 2013.
Students at Aldergrove Community Secondary School and Betty Gilbert Elementary will also benefit from the two all-season fields. Part of the land used for the new soccer complex belongs to the Langley School District, and nearby students will be given priority use during school hours.
Benefits of Synthetic Turf Fields:
· More durable than natural turf
· Polypropylene fiber can withstand more wear and tear
· Provide up to six times the amount of play
· Better withstand the elements
· Made of recycled materials
· Are lit, allowing for night-time events and continued play through the entire year
· Lead to less injuries than gravel fields
· Do not need watering or trimming