Paying for the new Handsworth track may require a 4 x $950,000 government relay.
Rather than splitting the estimated $3.8 milliion track tab with the school district, council unanimously voted to quarter the bill with the municipality, school district, provincial and federal all paying equal shares.
“Let’s try to get some money,” Coun. Megan Curren said.
The district will likely need to work with neighbours and running groups to help fund the project as well, according to Mayor Mike Little.
“It’s always easier to spend someone else’s money,” he noted. “It is going to take a groundswell of support from the community and users of these kinds of facilities.”
The failure to build a new track would be a “great loss” for the North Shore, said track user Coun. Jordan Back.
Given the ongoing election campaign, Back suggested it might be a good time to approach the federal government.
Coun. Lisa Muri agreed, describing sports as: “integral to our quality of life.”
“Let’s talk to the provincial government and let’s talk to the federal government and let’s try to figure out ways to work with the school district to find this money,” she said.
Muri also noted the “community outcry” over the possible loss of the track.
Speaking to council earlier this year, Handsworth cross-country coach Ryne Melcher expressed concern that the loss of a running track would be a “huge blow” to the surging number of high school athletes.
Handsworth PAC chair Jane Carswell voiced similar concerns this spring.
“It is unfortunate that the provincial government isn’t committed to replacing the outdoor track and field facility . . . given that it serves the entire elementary and high school community on the North Shore, as well as private schools and track and field clubs – all of which improve children’s (and adults’) health and well-being.”
The money would pay for the track as well as fencing, drainage, irrigation, landscaping and washroom at the new Handsworth Secondary.
Following the construction of the new Handsworth, the 57-year-old high school is set to be demolished and replaced with a grass field in 2022. However, the school district has no money or mandate to replace the track.
The proposed four-lane track would include a six-lane straightaway on the north side for the 100-metre dash.