The Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association (KEYSA) has been working to provide an indoor sports facility for Cranbrook and surrounding area for approximately 18 months. The project would provide ~2,600 m2 of indoor field space for year-round use. From the onset of this project, KEYSA has presented the facility as a multi-sport and multi-use facility. Success of this project depends on attracting a diversity of users. Over the past two years KEYSA has worked hard to engage all potential user groups that have been identified and have received have been supported by most. Presenting this facility as a “soccer” dome demonstrates an unformed opinion and is detrimental to the project and non-soccer users that have shown strong support for the project. Our community stands to benefit greatly from this facility recreationally and financially. It is not for any one group.
A key component of the project was the involvement of the City of Cranbrook (the City) as a partner. Gratefully to KEYSA, the City has demonstrated support from the onset of the project; with the strongest example being a commitment of the City to provide a suitable building location for the indoor facility. This was critical to the success of the project.
Over the last 18 months KEYSA has conducted extensive and continuous consultation with both Mayor and Council, and City staff. Included in this was a Business Plan provided by KEYSA to Mayor and Council five months into the process (June 2017). Discussions of project logistics continued. Fifteen months into the process (April 2018), KEYSA submitted a letter to the City indicating that our fundraising efforts were substantially complete and that a location needed to be confirmed to allow for construction to be completed in 2018.
Also in June 2018, KEYSA provided a list of potential build locations that had been derived through consultation with City staff. Six locations were subjected to a ranking matrix that used accessibility, respecting existing uses, constructability, and security as raking criteria. The matrix ranked Moir Park lowest of the six options; labeling it as “unsuitable”, based largely on its lack of accessibility and the implications it would have on operational success, but also when considering the surrounding uses at Balment Park. Large air-supported structures such as the one proposed by KEYSA provide a unique use that are not the same as traditional hard-structure, multi-sport complexes. These two types of facilities cannot be presented as mutually exclusive, but rather as complimentary and often constructed in close proximity. We need only to look to Kelowna to see an example of centralizing these complimentary facilities in one location. Presenting to citizens that the choice is one or the other is misleading.
In May 2018, KEYSA appeared as a delegation before City Council in a closed meeting to present our assessment of location. Each location was discussed relative to the ranking matrix. Detailed cost-revenue projections generated for the various locations were offered at the meeting, but declined for review by City Council. These projections demonstrated the financial challenges with an out-of-town location such as Moir Park; supporting the ranking matrix determination of “unsuitable”. The closed meeting concluded with the KEYSA request for the City to identify two potential building locations within the following week so that pre-construction investigations could begin and final facility designs could be completed in time for a 2018 construction period.
In June 2018, the City conducted a public input open-house where the City presented Balment Park and Moir Park as the two remaining options. KEYSA publically supported Balment for the reasons presented in the ranking matrix and when considering the surrounding uses at Balment Park. As such, KEYSA discussed the option of Balment with other users at that location. Through this consultation an option was developed that allowed for the facility to be sighted at Balment, while also keeping the BMX park adjacent the skateboard park, and maximizing green space. The opportunity to review and discuss this option was declined by the City. On June 26, 2018 the City informed KEYSA that Moir Park was the location selected for the indoor facility.
KEYSA is now at a critical point in the project. The City has informed KEYSA that discussions on location have concluded. KEYSA’s board has met and reviewed the financial projections for Moir Park versus a more central location. Constructing the indoor facility at Moir Park is predicted to result in a loss of $35,000-$45,000 in operational revenue annual, primarily through a loss in daytime and summer use. Daytime users that have voiced support for a more central location include schools, seniors programs, and health practitioners. Summer use can include trade shows, concerts, markets, and portions of community events such as Sam Steele Days and Canada Day on years with poor weather. As a non-profit organization, KEYSA is mandated to operate at a near-breakeven scenario. Therefore, any loss of operational revenue put the facility as substantial risk of failing to offset operational costs. As a board responsible for our members, the future of our association, the potential users of the facility, and the donors who have provided over $1 million towards this project, KEYSA must decide on the future of this project and consider the financial risk the selected location places on the organization. Delays in site selection have made a 2018 construction period unlikely, putting secured funding at risk. Further delay places the entire project at risk as a whole. KEYSA remains committed to all stakeholders in finding solutions and working with all partners to resolving the operational deficit with the City’s selected location, but time is of the essence to resolve these issues.
– From the Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association
(Photo courtesy of Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association)