A rendering of one area of the project, created by Stantec and submitted to Cabin Radio by Fort Simpson senior administrator Kevin Corrigan.
The Village of Fort Simpson is launching a project that would build a track and field facility, outdoor gym, bike pump track, skate park, soccer pitch and more.
Village councillors are working with Stantec engineers on a proposal for Infrastructure Canada after recreation director Andre Bolduc circulated a poll that helped to decide what kind of project to pursue.
“After a lot of consultation and feedback from residents, we’ve heard that this kind of project is something that the community is really interested in,” said Sean Whelly, Fort Simpson’s mayor.
“We used to have a running track, years ago, so we see this as returning a track to Fort Simpson and opening up opportunities to host the NWT track and field championship in future.”
Track and field and soccer are popular pastimes for youth in Fort Simpson. Whelly wants to ensure they are better supported and have more resources.
“Every year, I see kids training for track in the spring and they’re having to run in the back roads,” he said.
The proposed site for the facility is an area of land that has potential for flooding, but the village says its plan would ensure everything can be easily cleaned after a high water event.
Senior administrator Kevin Corrigan sees the project as a creative way to make use of land that can’t be used for much else.
“Everything will be built to withstand flooding,” he said. “That’s partly why we’re imagining an outdoor facility. That way, we don’t have to worry about heating and staffing year-round either, which is great because there’s less funding available for the operational costs of a project like this.”
But that’s not to say the facility couldn’t be operational in all seasons. Corrigan emphasized that the project is still in its early stages and there will be more opportunities for residents to offer feedback.
“One idea is to add a speed skating track for winter, so the space could be utilized year-round,” he said. “We’re not finished with the community consultation stage, so these are just concepts right now.”
That said, both Whelly and Corrigan hope to see the project move forward as quickly as possible.
“If everything works out, we would start the tendering process next year and hopefully have construction beginning by late next year,” said Corrigan.
The village is pitching the project as an opportunity to host regional and territorial events and build Fort Simpson’s profile in the territory.
“I have this vision of Fort Simpson being a leader in NWT sport and recreation,” said Corrigan.
“That’s my goal. We want to offer something to residents of all ages: we want to have competitions here but we also want facilities that adults, kids, teenagers and Elders will all be able to use.
“We just want to promote sports and recreation as much as possible.”