Salt Spring Island Youth Soccer Association (SSIYSA) is excited to announce that School District #64 (SD64) has agreed to partner with the SSIYSA to build a brand-new all-weather turf field with lights at the Gulf Islands Secondary School (GISS) lower field. An All Weather Field Feasibility Study was presented to the SD64 school board yesterday by the SSIYSA Field Improvement Committee and was approved given the significant advantages it provides to the school board, the environment and most importantly the soccer community and school district youth who will have access to this field.
“The advantages to the youth who are part of this extensive soccer community here on Salt Spring are the main drivers of this project,” commented Sean Norgard, Treasurer and Chair of the SSIYSA Field Improvement Committee. “A synthetic turf playing field with lighting can provide four times the amount of use over a sand-based natural grass playing field. Add to this the water savings, health and safety factors and reduced maintenance requirements – we are thrilled to be moving forward with this project for our community.”
The feasibility study was initiated by key members of the SSIYSA, including Sean Norgard, Ciaran Ayton and Colin Walde, in January 2019 with approval from SD64, to establish turf field upgrade viability on one of two fields: GISS Lower field or the SIMS field – with the final determination on pursuing the GISS lower field due to a variety of positive factors. In addition, the goals of this study were to develop an economic analysis of maintenance costs, health and safety requirements, identify any provincial, school district and/or any other regulatory issues that could impact the project as well as to define shared development and operational costs for this synthetic field that was amenable to both groups. The study was supported by an extensive architectural engineering report under the advisement of Doug Wournell who has designed and overseen the construction of many synthetic fields in BC, Canada and the US.
The assessment findings of building a synthetic field vs. maintaining a sand-based field on the GISS field were significant:
- Dramatic reduction in water use requirements and costs for the SD64 district.
- Substantial construction cost savings due to the existence of a high quality sand base and drainage system already in place at GISS.
- GISS lower field is largely unusable for most of the year, particularly during the peak soccer season.
- Substantial annual maintenance cost savings – approximately 13K per year – to the school district.
The SSIYSA and findings of this assessment also provides a strong foundation for community benefits:
- GISS (and other schools of SD64) would gain year-round access to an all-weather outdoor field that can be used for PE and other purposes. Students will have more opportunities to be healthy, stay fit, and to engage in sporting activities that build self-esteem and teamwork.
- The School District gains an all-weather field with purchase and installation costs covered by SSIYSA and its fundraising efforts.
- The SSIYSA would utilize an all-weather field for soccer practices and games throughout the winter months, on weeknight evenings and weekends.
- A synthetic turf facility and lights would also provide year-round opportunities to other sport training programs that could utilize the field outside of soccer program hours.
“With the building of this new turf field here on Salt Spring, we are opening up a broad range of opportunities for our soccer community – for both our league players as well as bringing soccer and other turf field competitions to our island,” says Malcolm Legg, President of the SSIYSA. “With more than 20 turf fields existing in the assorted Vancouver Island leagues our SSI players participate in, we are putting Salt Spring on the map in terms of having soccer come here to our community. It’s great for our players, our community and to the league.”
Funding for the new field, which will be in the range of $2.5 million dollars, will be managed entirely by the SSIYSA and will include a broad range of fundraising activities including tapping into federal, provincial and local outreach programs. This project is also conditional on the approval of the shared use agreement by the SD64 and the SSIYSA which is still being finalized.
“We have a strongly supportive community here on Salt Spring that we believe will see the importance of providing our expansive soccer community with the opportunity to play more soccer and make Salt Spring a go to destination for tournaments,” Sean Norgard commented. With the added avenues that exist for funding through public grants, etc, we feel really confident that we can get this field built in a timely manner.”
Read the full report: