The dream of constructing a multi-purpose indoor field sport facility in Williams Lake has been given new life.
Williams Lake City Council gave its support in principle Tuesday at its committee of the whole meeting for the idea of Williams Lake Youth Soccer Association to pursue plans to build a facility at Comer Park, located across from Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake.
“The support at the meeting was really good,” WLYSA indoor committee chair Brian Hansen said.
“We don’t want this to be for just the soccer club. This is something we want to build for the whole community.”
This isn’t the first time an indoor sports facility has been eyed in the lakecity.
In 2010, the Cariboo Regional District’s joint committee allocated $20,000 to undertake a feasibility study to investigate appropriate facility designs, construction costs, operating models and potential locations for such a facility.
WLYSA has recently engaged in a partnership with John Birkic and MasterClass 369 Consulting to help lead the development of a new business plan and feasibility study to bring its goal to fruition.
Hansen said the WLYSA currently has 1,000 youth enroled in summer soccer and, with the combined men’s and ladies’ leagues, has more than 1,400 players enjoying the sport in the city.
“We tried to do youth indoor soccer (in the winter) a few years ago and we were overrun with 400 kids,” Hansen said. “The need and want (for a proper facility) is there.”
Birkic — a former professional soccer player, Team BC representative and presently coach with 28 years of specialized construction experience — noted other user groups such as rugby, lacrosse, basketball, track and field, among many others, could get great use out of the indoor facility.
“We want to target seasonal groups so this isn’t just a winter thing,” he said.
“Part of our vision is to keep the momentum slowly increasing rather than going up and then crashing. Right now we’re gathering information to put together a business plan. We’ve already looked at some conceptual designs for the project.”
Williams Lake Coun. Jason Ryll said he liked the idea because he doesn’t think the community is large enough to sustain a single-use facility. Coun. Laurie Walters also added she was excited to see the project come back to the table, after the need to construct a new pool at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex sidelined the project years ago.
When asked how big the facility would be by Coun. Ivan Bonnell, Birkic said they are looking at a 90,000 square foot fully-covered soccer field.
“Everybody’s confident that this can be designed well,” Hansen said. “We’re taking a methodical approach.”
The group also ensured council the majority of the trees surrounding the site would stay.
“We want to keep our good athletes and players here so they don’t have to leave town,” Hansen said.
“And see what could happen for these kids,” Birkic added.
“This is about a lot of things that could help the kids and the community out.”