North Shore Football Club is urging the district to hold the ballot to build a new turf field

Coach Parham Tavakoli (left), here with NVFC Riptide U12s, says a lack of artificial grass pitches is hampering player development.  (Parham Tavakoli - photo credit)

Coach Parham Tavakoli (left), here with NVFC Riptide U12s, says a lack of artificial grass pitches is hampering player development. (Parham Tavakoli – photo credit)

North Vancouver football clubs say they are turning children away from academy and development meetings because of a lack of space on artificial turf pitches.

According to the North Vancouver Football Club (NVFC), the North Shore has six grass pitches and more than 5,500 youth and 1,000 adults playing soccer, which they believe is the highest ratio of players to grass pitches in the Lower Mainland.

“The level of talent in North Vancouver is so high and the lack of facilities to coach these young men and girls is frankly ridiculous,” said Parham Tavakoli, a North Vancouver coach and volunteer with three sons who play for NVFC.

“I paid out of my own pocket and rented gyms for our training during the fall-winter season, which, as you can imagine, isn’t ideal for player development.”

The club recently started an online petition urging the District of North Vancouver Council to honor a promise made in 2018 to build a new artificial turf pitch at Inter River Park, north of the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge.

The city council has set 2023 as the start of construction. But according to a draft budget presented to the council during a Jan. 30 meeting, it was proposed that the project be put on hold.

Taking into account the increasing number of housing starts on the north coast and the expected demand for sports, football clubs are concerned they will not have space to register new players to play on grass.

Kathryn Marlow/CBC

Kathryn Marlow/CBC

“Where will these children… go? where will they play How will they recover outdoors?” asked Stuart Ince, President of the North Vancouver Football Association.

“Families love to have their kids out there and we need decent facilities for them to play.”

Another concern for coaches is that of the six grass pitches currently available, two at Windsor Secondary and William Griffin are due to be replaced in the next few years.

Council decides budget

The Council will hold its final deliberations on the budget next month after completing a public consultation period.

Recently elected Council. Catherine Pope says she will push for Inter River project to be included in final budget.

“Inter River was promised to this community years ago and I think it’s very much needed, it’s an important part of our future,” Pope said.

“It was in the budget last year and it kind of isn’t in the budget anymore, but other things are. So I think we can find a way to do that, but it’s about priorities.”

Laurence Watts/CBC

Laurence Watts/CBC

Mayor Mike Little is aware of the concerns of the football community and says the council must consider several factors before building a new turf pitch at Inter River.

One issue relates to the proposed location of the new turf field, which is a former landfill site. According to Little, the council is waiting for an update from staff to confirm the ground at the site is stable enough to install proper drainage systems.

“We’re not intentionally delaying these projects,” Little said. “If the money is available and if these various grants are available and there are no technical barriers … then I don’t see why these projects wouldn’t move forward.”

According to the current draft budget, homeowners must increase their municipal property taxes by 4.5 percent for 2023.

Little points out that the county already has about $40 million worth of sports-related projects in its current five-year plan, and allocating more money to grass pitches will result in higher property taxes.

Residents have until March 6 to make their contribution to the budget.

The future of North Shore athletic fields

While two artificial turf pitches are set to be replaced, Little says a new turf pitch will be built at Argyle Secondary, due for completion in 2024.

Meanwhile, he points out that there are numerous grass and gravel fields in North Vancouver.

“When I was a kid, we played on gravel,” Little said. “If that’s the direction the community really wants to go, away from gravel fields and towards a higher proportion of artificial fields [fields]then we will get there, but it will take some time.”


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