City council granted a request from the Peace Country Wolves Athletics Club (PCWAC) on Monday (July 11) that could see upgrades to Legion Field’s and its facilities.
Council directed administration to bring a capital plan and a report to the fall budget deliberations on the work needed to upgrade the field to Alberta Schools' Athletic Association (ASAA) standards.
The upgrades are needed so the city can host the ASAA provincial track and field meet in 2024, said Christopher Nelissen, PCWAC executive director and associate head coach.
“For the past 20 years, our zone has hosted the meets but we’re unable to do that now in Grande Prairie because facilities do not meet the standards of the ASAA,” Travis Chabot, PCWAC member, told council.
The upgrades to Legion Field come with a cost.
The upgrades have been split into four phases at a total estimated cost of $849,000.
Currently, phase one is in progress with the media tower receiving repairs to unsafe stairs as well as high-speed internet access. The cost of phase one is $120,000.
Phase two is estimated at approximately $346,000 and focuses primarily on jumping areas; additionally, a $1,500 repair is needed on the stop board for shotput and repairs to fencing in the areas for spectator safety.
“The long jump, triple jump, and pole vault area is running uphill or downhill depending on which direction you're going, which is unsafe for all athletes using that area.”
“Right now, where the fence sits, spectators can be in danger of getting hit by a javelin, it's a small chance, but that chance is too big for us, and we want to fix that issue,” said Nelissen.
The club plans to fund much of the expenditures through grants, such as $124,999 from the Community Facility Enhancement Program grant.
Phase three of the upgrades is hoped to be covered entirely by grants and donations, explained Nelissen. It will see the building of a storage shed and new equipment to follow ASAA standards.
Phase four -- the final one -- is expected for 2027 and will see the resurfacing of the running track and the addition of a steeplechase water pit. The estimated $300,000 price tag is expected to come from grants as well as municipal funds.
Nelissen explained it is a common practice to resurface the track as its weatherized rubber surface becomes worn out over time. He said the track was last resurfaced in 2012.
“I would love for the public in the city to look at this as an opportunity for the businesses in Grande Prairie,” said Nelissen.
He says an event like the provincial track and field meet brings more than 1,000 people to the city who also utilize hotels, shops, and restaurants.
The upgrades could also lead to the club hosting other track and field events such as training camps and clinics, which could bring more athletes and their teams to the city, said Nelissen.
Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News