After nearly two years of discussion, including multiple consultations with elected student representatives from the University Students’ Council and the Society of Graduate Students, a proposal has been agreed upon to commission the construction of two artificial turf fields on the site of the current sport fields on Huron Drive, across from the Labatt Health Sciences Building at an estimated cost of $4.47 million.
The project requires final approval of Western’s Property and Finance Committee, who meet in January.
More than 15,000 Western students are involved in intramural sports programs and some 1,000 students participate in club programs and varsity athletic programs, many of which use these fields.
The current grass field conditions typically have resulted in the closure of the fields for six months or more a year and cancellation/re-scheduling of activities due to unplayable conditions and/or the time required for the ongoing maintenance of these fields.
These closures have put more than 800 students on waitlists for intramural sports that take place on these fields. The conversion of university sport fields is common practice across Canada, and beyond, due to the increased utilization throughout the year.
Western will be contributing $2.77 million to the project while all graduate and undergraduate students will pay a modest fee to fund the remaining portion of the project – as directed by elected student representatives through the Student Services Committee. A fee of $4.64 will be implemented effective Sept. 1, 2013 as an increase to the Campus Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletic fee. This fee will be incremented annually by inflation. Revenues from the fees will flow directly toward funding the project.
The scope of the project includes:
- Installation of two artificial turf fields on the site of the current practice fields;
- Field 1 would be of rugby specifications, with multi-sport lining. Field 2 would be of multi-sport specifications;
- Both fields would be fully fenced;
- Installation of a new lighting system for both fields;
- Installation of modest transportable bleachers;
- Installation of scoreboards for both fields; and
- Landscaping and infrastructure re-routing.
“After a long negotiation process we were pleased that the university was willing to make a significant financial contribution to the project. We knew that many students would benefit from improved field facilities, but in principle we had hoped to avoid raising ancillary fee – this decision was not an easy one for the committee. In the end, we felt like this project could set the tone for a strong collaborative working relationship between students and the administration and that we could move forward in a partnership of trust,” said Adam Fearnall, USC president.
“The student experience will be significantly enhanced by the conversion of these two fields to artificial turf,” said Therese Quigley, Sports and Recreation Services director. “The consistency of the field conditions, regardless of the weather, and the extended year round availability to schedule activity on these fields will provide opportunities that all students will enjoy for years to come.”
The expected completion date of the fields is September 2013. Beyond this project, an overall Sport and Recreation Facility Advisory Group will be established, to advise Sports and Recreation Services on the utilization of existing sport and recreation facilities at Western and future planning for such facilities. This committee will include two members appointed by the university, and one member from each of the USC and SOGS.