Moncton is offering financial support to build a synthetic turf field at École l'Odyssée.
City councillors voted unanimously to provide $750,000 for the project at a committee meeting Monday, contingent on the provincial government also providing funding. The city would also act as construction manager for the field estimated to cost $2.4 million.
The school says the existing sports field is rough, rocky and becomes too muddy during rain. Some matches and practices take place at fields elsewhere in the city or in Dieppe, rather than the current field at the city's only francophone high school. It is located off Leopold F. Belliveau Drive.
"Students leave our school because they see opportunities elsewhere, maybe safer fields, at other schools," Monique Bourque, the school's vice-principal, told council.
A letter to the city states the existing field doesn't meet the needs of athletes in soccer, rugby, football, ultimate Frisbee, physical education or leadership classes.
The vice-principal told council that coaches and teachers modify their training and outdoor classes to avoid using it because of concerns about student injuries.
Rachelle Losier-Comeau is a member of the committee seeking to raise funds. She attended the school and was its athlete of the year in 2007.
"I remember at the time — and this is still a challenge today — is the difficulty getting people joining teams," Losier-Comeau told council. She said there are students whose parents can't drive them to other fields for practices or games.
Dreaming, planning for years
"This is something we've been dreaming about and planning for many years," she said of the new field.
The field plans also include installing lights, scoreboard, bleachers and a building with locker rooms.
The city previously spent $750,000 for similar fields at Harrison Trimble High School, Bernice McNaughton High School and Moncton High School.
The funding is also contingent on the city reaching an agreement with the Francophone Sud School District to allow community use of the new field.
Bourque said, if the funding and agreements are in place next year, the hope is to start and complete construction in 2021.
The city plans to use $750,000 held in a reserve account for the cancelled 2021 Francophonie Games to pay for the field contribution.