City of Whitehorse considers outdoor sports complex proposal

The ball is in the court - or field - of the City of Whitehorse to decide if it will re-zone an area where the Yukon government wants to build a sports complex with soccer pitches and a running track.

Yukon Government wants to build 2 soccer pitches and an 8-lane rubberized track

The Yukon government is asking the City of Whitehorse to re-zone an area in the Whistle Bend subdivision where it plans to build two soccer fields with artificial turf and an eight-lane track. (The Canadian Press)

The ball is in the court — or field — of the City of Whitehorse to decide if it will re-zone an area where the Yukon government wants to build a new outdoor sports complex.  

The government is proposing to build two regulation-sized soccer pitches with artificial turf and an eight-lane rubberized running track in the Whistle Bend subdivision. Other infrastructure would including fencing and lighting. 

"We're really excited about it," said Community Services Minister Currie Dixon.

"I think it's going to be a fantastic addition to Yukon's recreational infrastructure, and we know that some of the sports organizations are particularly excited about it."

So far, city council is holding back its enthusiasm.

"Is there really a need in Whitehorse of a complex this size?" asked councillor Mike Gladish at Monday's meeting after a presentation by the Yukon Sports Complex Association, the group that would lease and run the facility.

Gladish brought up the expensive legacy of hosting the Canada Winter Games. 

Councillor Dave Stockdale also expressed trepidation. 

"We've had to bear the brunt of things like this in the past," he said.

Mayor Dan Curtis said he was confused about the scope of the project and the details of the zone change request. 

Minister says Yukon gov't would pay for facility

Dixon said he and Premier Darrell Pasloski have spoken to the mayor about the project several times. He told CBC's A New Day Host Sandi Coleman last week that the project would be financially beneficial to the city because the territory would pay for the facility, including its construction, operation and maintenance.

The territorial government owns the land and would pay a grant to the city in lieu of taxes, said Dixon. It just needs the city to agree to the zoning change so it can move on the project. 

Dixon says the government was approached by the the Yukon Soccer Association about the project more than a year ago. 

"We determined there was a need for additional soccer fields in Whitehorse," he said, mentioning the loss of the field at F.H. Collins Secondary School, where construction is underway for a new high school.

Asked about costs, Dixon said he doesn't have an estimate yet but would have a better idea after the government gets responses to its request for proposals for the design.

If all goes well, he says players could be kicking a ball on the new turf as early as the summer of 2016.

Discussion on the sports complex will resume at city council this Monday. 

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