North Vancouver residents in turf war with football club over proposed playing field

The District of North Vancouver is debating a plan to add either a new playing field to a park near Lynn Creek, but the project is meeting resistance from residents.

Addition of a second soccer pitch would mean losing a popular forested area

The District of North Vancouver introduced a plan last summer for a second soccer field near Lynn Creek which would allow for future soccer tournaments, but require extensive tree removal. A decision is expected in early 2018. (The District of North Vancouver)

A proposed new sports field in North Vancouver is pitting soccer players against residents who don't want any more trees cut down in Lynnmour, a fast-growing neighbourhood near Lynn Creek.

The District of North Vancouver says it will decide in early 2018 whether to add a new sports field near an existing soccer pitch — which requires clearing a forested area — or simply upgrade the existing field.

Michelle Silver of the Inter River Community Association opposes a second sports field.

"I want the forest to remain intact, non-negotiable," she said.

North Vancouver resident Michelle Silver opposes cutting down more trees near Inter River Park. ( Inter River Park Community Association Facebook Page)

She says community members have been fighting since the early '90s to preserve the forest.

 "This small forest in that kind of densified area is an opportunity for people to be able to have access to a forested area within all of this urbanization."

Stuart Ince, president of the North Vancouver Football Club, is lobbying for a second field. He said there are other places residents can go to enjoy a walk the woods.

"There is a significant walking area that runs on both sides of the river in Brigman Park," Ince said. "I walk my dog down there all the time."

Ince says the club's 3,700 members don't have many choices for fields, especially compared to other clubs in the region.

"We have traditionally had the lowest ratio of field-to-players in the whole of the Lower Mainland," Ince said. "Until just recently we've only had four fields."

The club has started using the newly constructed Fen Burdett Stadium in North Vancouver, and a training pitch is expected to be built at Kirkstone Park in the new year, but that is still not enough, Ince said.

He says a new field, especially one side-by-side with the existing one, would allow more kids to develop their technical skills. It could also give the club the opportunity to host tournaments that would bring economic benefits to the district.

A total of 87 per cent of nearby residents prefer the option of a single field, while 87 per cent of people living farther away in the District of North Vancouver support a second playing field, according to a survey conducted this summer by the district, canvassing 1,288 people.

An anonymous artist paints and leaves behind rocks in the forest near Inter River Park. ( Inter River Park Community Association FB page)

Concerns of nearby residents include less natural forest  along with more noise, traffic and bright lights.

Silver says that as development continues in the neighbourhood, she sees more people using the forested area for jogging, dog walking and biking.

"The beauty of that little area is that we don't have to get in our car and drive," she said. "We can actually walk from our homes and walk from the schools."