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No artificial turf field for Delta Secondary

Delta Secondary won't be getting an artificial turf playing field in the near future, but the door hasn't been completely closed on the proposal just yet.

Delta Secondary won't be getting an artificial turf playing field in the near future, but the door hasn't been completely closed on the proposal just yet.

Delta council voted in favour of a staff recommendation Monday to endorse the Ladner Sport Field Enhancement Plan, containing a series of improvements to fields that are often unplayable in wet conditions.

The biggest item in the plan, costing $3.8 million, is a lit synthetic turf field at Dugald Morrison Park in Ladner's civic precinct.

The project would be financed primarily by Delta, which would look to user groups to contribute. Grant money would also be sought from senior government.

Parks and recreation director Ken Kuntz told council sport user groups were unanimous that Dugald Morrison fit all the criteria when it comes to accessibility, being centrally located and having a minimal impact to the surrounding neighbourhood. The turf field would be built by 2014, perhaps sooner if grant money is received.

After the parks and recreation commission had agreed earlier this year to recommend Dugald Morrison, perhaps the most unplayable field in Ladner in the winter months, members of Delta Secondary's parent advisory council stepped forward with their own proposal.

They wanted to have a turf field built at the high school and met with the parks and recreation department to discuss the idea.

In an interview with the Optimist at the time, PAC spokesperson Trish Cowley said it could be a great partnership opportunity between the school district and municipality.

"Most municipalities, actually, have a partnership with their school districts. That is how schools all over the Lower Mainland have turf fields," she said.

Cowley said having a field at a school would ensure more could enjoy the benefits, rather than having a turf field stay empty during most weekdays.

However, a report to council notes while the proposal had potential benefits, it fell short of the objectives for the sport community.

"In particular, it would not serve the needs of the sport organizations that wish to have unfettered access evenings and weekends and do not wish to compete with school programs for use of the fields. Both the sport organizations and staff noted that a lit synthetic turf field has impacts to the neighbourhood with respect to traffic and the Delta Secondary School neighbourhood would be significantly impacted."

The report also noted track improvements at the school alone could easily cost $1 million or more.

Kuntz said the DSS site also had physical limitations as far as its configuration to accommodate soccer.

The PAC's proposal was deferred to the Delta Council/Board of Education Liaison Committee for further discussion.

Coun. Bruce McDonald, noting he doesn't want to quash the enthusiasm of the PAC, said what's needed is to give the group a road map of where Delta wants to be as far as accommodating sport user groups and timetable for looking at what may be done at the school down the road.

Coun. Robert Campbell, who chairs the parks and recreation commission, agreed, noting he supports something being added at the site at some point.

"Now it shifts the onus on the school district to come forward at the liaison committee level to say, 'This is our vision and here's how we propose to go forward.' Yes, it's public land, but we don't have control of this land and it should not be our vision, nor should we be taking the lead," Campbell said.

Although the recommendation was to proceed at Dugald Morrison, the DSS PAC hasn't given up. On Facebook the group, noting the high school turns 100 next year, is asking residents to check out the PAC website and sign its online petition.

"Our location would be cheaper and benefit so many more residents," the group states.

The cost of the sport field enhancement plan, which also includes improvements at Cromie and Hawthorne parks, is estimated at $5 million.

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