Councillor Mike Nickel sees three competing policy interests at City Hall that are on a collision course that will mean fewer soccer fields, ball diamonds and play grounds in city fields. He’s got an inquiry that he’ll launch at Tuesday’s city council meeting to straighten everything out.
Nickel said the administration is working at cross purposes on the city’s flood mitigation program, it’s first place housing program, and the city’s open space master parks plan for open spaces.
He told reporters the plan to find spaces to store rain water during intense storms brought this conflict to light. “The flood maps were just the start. Now we need an actual strategy to bring these three policies into alignment.”
Nickel is losing three fields because of flood mitigation. “Behind Edith Rogers I’m losing a soccer field and a baseball diamond. It can go up into Michael’s Park, but guess what is on Michael’s Park, it’s a surplus school site. So those policies might be in contradiction. So how do we get a process through to make my communities whole?”
“This isn’t just going to be a ward eleven problem, this is going to be a city problem.”
He’s confident if the supervisors of the three programs compare notes, they’ll be able to install flood mitigation where it’s needed and still find replacement space for sports fields, and also have room for trails, trees, benches and green space to create wanted parks. “If you talk to the end users of these products they’re going to say we need more not less.”
The ward eleven councillor said there are solutions to be found. “I think there are,” Nickel said. “You’ve got to start with the inventory. Then you’ve got to prioritize what’s going to be put in and what’s not going to go in. You’ve got to make choices.”
Part of the thinking Nickel said could be an answer to an inquiry made by Coun. Bryan Anderson late last year on the use of artificial turf for sports fields. Anderson said that putting in crushed road gravel and weeping tile as a base for $2 million, then the surface artificial turf on top of that for $1 million, could save enough over 10-12 years that when it comes time to have to replace the surface turf, the cost savings will more than pay for the replacement.
“The savings on increased revenue from increased users, and a lack of painting lines and fertilizing and watering and so on and so forth, does that allow us every twelve years to replace the top on saved money?” Anderson said about the calculations that were based on the final year of grass use, and the first year of artificial turf.
“it’s a matter of how much money can we save? And does that drive more use.”
Council will get a report in June with the findings on Anderson’s questions. The artificial turf at Clarke Stadium prompted his inquiry.
“The numbers were kind of staggering. Five-hundred and fifty per cent increase in users. Three hundred and fifty per cent reduction in operating costs. Those kinds of numbers.”
Artificial turf is in Commonwealth Stadium, Clarke Park, Foote Field, Henry Singer, Mill Woods, John Bright, as well as two in Parkland County, one in St. Albert, one in Sherwood Park, and two are being designed for “Terwillegar in Leger, and one in Londonderry near Lezert.”