Stefan Szkwarek hopes to see an outdoor turf field or indoor soccer facility in the Town of Comox’s future.
Szkwarek is the president of the Comox Valley United Soccer Club and he presented the options for more permanent soccer infrastructure within the town at Wednesday’s Comox council meeting.
He says with about 40 per cent of the club’s members coming from the town, an all-weather turf field or indoor facility would provide excellent recreation options for residents.
In the past, the club has contributed about $1 million to local sports infrastructure, including lights at the Vanier turf field and a contribution to the field; the clubhouse at Valley View and purchased soccer goals at various areas around the Valley.
Szkwarek adds a turf field would enable players for year-round play, has a low cost to maintain and the surface quality remains intact throughout the year.
He suggests three options for a facility: a lit turf field adjacent to the Comox Recreation Centre, an indoor structure adjacent to the building or a turf field(s) at Highland Secondary School.
With plenty of volunteers, Szkwarek notes the club can assist with the project. It is looking to work together with the Town to develop a concept for an all-weather facility suitable for year-round play in one of the three suggested locations, to gain commitment from the Town to proceed and to seek funding if available.
Coun. Maureen Swift inquired about the cost of a field and grant eligibility.
“It depends on how many fields you do at once. If you do one field, it’s about one million dollars and stadium lights are … generally around $200,000, but if you build more at once, there’s a scale of economy that can be found,” says Szkwarek.
As for grants, the club could qualify for a BC Gaming Grant. The criteria for the grant is that an organization would need operating reserves to be at about two-thirds of the operating revenue, which is about where the club is now.
“We would like to approach other organizations as well, but knowing that we are in a difficult situation – places like Rotary – they can’t run fundraisers so we know it would be difficult to go to those organizations,” notes Szkwarek.
Coun. Nicole Minions asked about the lifespan of the fields, which Szkwarek says is at least 15 to 20 years.
Jordan Wall, the Town’s chief administrative officer, notes the project would be considered ‘shovel-ready’ and could be eligible for other granting opportunities as well.
Mayor Russ Arnott notes council will most likely discuss the issue at a future strategic planning committee meeting.