Maintenance of Prince Albert’s existing athletic facilities will be the city’s main focus for the foreseeable future, according to recreation manager Jody Boulet.
While acknowledging plans for expansion in some areas, Boulet indicated that the availability of outdoor facilities such as soccer pitches and baseball diamonds is sufficient for the time being.
“Currently, on the soccer end, we’re looking at adding two more at the Alfred Jenkins Field House site,” he said. “We always review it on an annual basis in line with usership, but once those are constructed, I think we’re in a pretty comfortable situation as far as soccer pitches are concerned.
“Ball diamonds, we’re definitely in a pretty comfortable situation there. Our focus mainly is not so much on the construction of new (grounds), but making sure the current ones we have are maintained and kept to a high standard.”
Boulet added that when the city obtains a surplus after hosting major athletic events such as the 2013 Pee Wee Western Canadian Softball Championship, funds are often invested back into local facilities as a legacy component of the games.
He noted that maintenance of the facilities is anchored by strong partnerships and consultations with local user groups.
“We want to be ready to meet any type of demand that we may have in the future, so we definitely stay in close contact with our user groups on an annual basis to make sure we’re meeting their needs,” Boulet said.
“But when it comes to the long-term planning, you have to look at the current life cycle of our facilities and the arena’s definitely come into that discussion and will be up for review.”
Where soccer pitches are concerned, a representative of the Prince Albert Youth Soccer Association (PAYSA) has suggested that the number of available fields in the city does not currently allow for proper maintenance.
Technical director Sean Riggs said that the PAYSA could use at least two more quality soccer fields.
“We make do with what we have,” he said. “But the under-10s and the under-12s get put on community fields that we don’t have to pay the city for, so it’s not the best quality for them to be playing on.
“It’d be nice to have somewhere that they could play that’s actually maintained.”
Our focus mainly is not so much on the construction of new (grounds), but making sure the current ones we have are maintained and kept to a high standard. Jody Boulet
The main problem facing PAYSA, according to Riggs, is that in the absence of more good fields, the two best soccer pitches -- located at Kinsmen Park and Prime Ministers’ Park -- both experience constant use between the time the snow melts and winter’s return.
As a result, there is no time to rest the fields for a few weeks to repair damage in areas such as the goal zones.
“It’d be nice if we had another field that we could use,” Riggs said. “Then we could rest them for a few weeks or a month and get the goal areas straightened out.”
The city’s consideration of two new soccer pitches behind the field house suggests that PAYSA’s concerns have not gone unnoticed.
In the context of the city hosting the First Nation Summer and Winter Games and the 2014 Saskatchewan Winter Games, the need to maintain adequate athletic facilities has rarely strayed far from the minds of officials.
Boulet pointed out that the budgeting process for the organizing committees of such events includes looking at the standard of available facilities.
Organizers of both games, he said, are currently undertaking that task.
“We haven’t had exactly what their capital requirements that they’re going to want to proceed with and fund (are) … But we don’t anticipate that there’s going to be a large requirement in order to host those events, as far as facility standards go locally.”
In the meantime, any decisions on major municipal investments -- which include building new athletic facilities -- require the city to first examine its existing assets before considering other needs moving forward.
“We’re just actually at step one in that process right now, and that’s reviewing our current infrastructure,” Boulet said.
“We’re going to report to council through the 2014 budget on the status of that current network of facilities, and then that’s going to allow some information for council to make some decisions around how we want to move forward for the next generation.”