Minor soccer players fill the Beban Park Gyro Youth Sports Fields at a tournament a few years ago. The minor soccer association is proposing artificial turf at the park. (Photo submitted)

Minor soccer players fill the Beban Park Gyro Youth Sports Fields at a tournament a few years ago. The minor soccer association is proposing artificial turf at the park. (Photo submitted)

City of Nanaimo will take a look at artificial turf at Beban sports fields

Harbour City FC pitches idea, indicates it can contribute $425,000 to project

Minor soccer would like to see major changes at its home field.

Nanaimo city council has directed staff to look into artificial turf and lighting at Beban Park’s Gyro Youth Sports Fields.

Coun. Bill Bestwick made the motion Monday at a committee of the whole meeting at the request of Harbour City FC, Nanaimo’s minor soccer association.

“We see this as the first step of a long-term, perhaps a multi-phase approach to a better four fields complex that accommodates multiple sports, multiple users, not just soccer,” said Jason Coates, president of Harbour City FC.

He said the club envisions the project starting with a single lit artificial turf pitch in front of the Lions Fieldhouse, as well more changeroom and storage space at the park. Coates said Harbour City FC is willing to commit $425,000 to the project.

Coun. Bill Yoachim said he was interested in seeing cost estimates for improvements at the Beban four fields, but indicated his support. He said he was recently in Musqueam with a First Nations soccer camp and said the facility there was better than anything that exists in Nanaimo.

“We’ve got to get up to speed here in a city of nearly 100,000, to get up to the times,” he said. “So I look forward to working with staff and we hope to get that far and move forward.”

Coun. Ian Thorpe said artificial turf is “the way of the future; it’s the way to go,” but asked if other user groups had been consulted and was advised that minor soccer hadn’t yet discussed the proposal with minor fastball.

Dave Poystila, a director with the Nanaimo and District Minor Fastball Association, said Friday that from what he’s seen of field upgrade plans to date, softball will be accommodated. The sport is often played on turf, he said, and better lighting and drainage at the field would be positives.

He pointed out that service clubs who originally contributed intended the fields to be used by multiple sports, so he’s hopeful softball won’t be pushed out of the venue.

“It’s just a matter of how they structure the changes that they make,” Poystila said. “I think everything’s going to work in the favour of everybody that’s involved, all the user groups.”

Mayor Bill McKay said at Monday’s meeting that the soccer club’s presentation was useful for the City of Nanaimo’s long-term capital planning.

Coates said he believes Harbour City FC, with nearly 2,000 members, is the largest sports association on Vancouver Island and estimated that upward of 3,500 people play, coach or watch soccer at the Gyro Youth Sports Fields on any given Saturday.

“If anybody in the room has not been by the Beban four field complex during youth soccer season on a Saturday morning, I really encourage people to go and have a look,” said Thorpe. “It’s just a fantastic jamboree atmosphere, kids all over the fields, parents having fun, having a great time.”

editor@nanaimobulletin.com