The Yellowknife Bay Soccer Club is seeking city approval to install a clubhouse, storage can and portable toilet at the soccer field outside École St Joseph School. So far, city planners have said no.
On Monday, coach Joe Acorn told city councillors there is currently nowhere at the field to store equipment or for players to get changed or use the washroom. That means coaches keep equipment in their vehicles, he said, kids sometimes have to change outside in the rain, and have to use the nearby skate park’s bushes as a toilet.
“It’s not fun. it turns people off the game,” Acorn said.
“It hampers us when we’re trying to grow the game.”
The club wants to install a portable washroom, portable changing rooms, and a seacan for equipment along a fence in the corner of the soccer field. As the field is owned and maintained by the city, the club needs municipal approval.
In an April 20 letter to Acorn, city planners said they didn’t support the proposal, citing issues with allowing a privately owned structure on public green-space.
The question in part comes down to who can access the buildings. The city said in cases where it has approved non-city structures at public facilities, those structures were made available for all members of the public to use.
“The city cannot permit a for-profit organization special access/installations at outdoor city facilities allocated for public use,” the letter reads. “The risk is two-fold as it creates the potential expectation of similar installations in the future and creates unfair access for a for-profit organization on publicly owned lands.”
Acorn, however, said the soccer club is not a for-profit organization and argued granting the club’s request would not create unfair access. Other groups would still be able to use the soccer field as they currently do, he said.
Fear that other groups might make similar requests in the future is “not a reason to turn this down,” Acorn said.
He added the club is open to other groups using the facilities if they are responsible and take care of them, but there could not be a “blank cheque for anyone to use it.” The soccer club plans to fully fund and maintain the facilities.
According to Acorn, the club has around 25 coaches and 180 players. The coach said his club is the biggest user of the city’s fieldhouse and outdoor soccer fields.
City councillors will further discuss the issue at a future meeting of their governance and priorities committee.