An extensively planned-for and fundraised project to replace the ailing track and field area at West Vancouver Secondary School is facing big delays.
District council has voted unanimously to expand the scope of the plan for West Vancouver Place for Sport to include additional amenities to the $9.5-million project – a price tag estimated in March of last year. The vote was held Jan. 16 behind closed doors and made public Jan. 19.
The most recent project scope didn’t include new washrooms, change facilities, or public viewing areas – the new track would only be four lanes wide. Now, an expanded project scope includes a six- or eight-lane track and a lighted turf field as well as those other amenities.
With the expanded scope, completion of the long-awaited project is being pushed back years into the future.
It’s still too early to provide a timeline, said district spokesperson Donna Powers. “Much will depend on what the outcome of the feasibility of the expanded scope is. After that work is complete, we will do a cost estimate on the new scope. Funding will also be a determining factor,” she said via email.
“Hypothetically, if the funding is in place and there are no obstacles to construction and a contractor can be secured in a timely manner, the very earliest construction start date would be 2024,” Powers added. “No construction has started.”
After years of fundraising work under previous council, cheers of being at the finish line went out last January. After five years of collecting cash from nearly 400 donors, construction was set to start last year.
Fast forward to 2023, and council said the next steps – to develop the expanded project scope and get cost estimates – should be completed by May. The district has allocated $80,000 for this work.
West Vancouver has the opportunity to create a spectacular legacy for the community, and we need to reassess and reimagine what this facility can be,” Mayor Mark Sager said in a statement.
“Council has unanimously voted to explore an expanded scope for the project through a new feasibility study so that we can invest in and build for the future in the best possible way,” he said. “We want to be able to welcome track meets and other sporting events, which translates to the need for a versatile, six-lane track with changerooms, washrooms, and viewing areas that will be open and accessible to everyone.”
“It is a big project, and one that needs to be addressed in a thoughtful way as we look to support the athletes and champions of tomorrow,” Sager continued.
On behalf of the West Vancouver Board of Education, chair Carolyn Broady said the board is thrilled with Sager’s vision for the future of sport in the district.
“With this new design we have a first-class legacy project which will serve our community for decades to come,” she said.
While located on school district land, the Ministry of Education doesn’t fund sports fields. To date, funding for the project has been committed by the district, West Vancouver Schools, fundraising and private donations.
The district said that council will continue to seek other sources of funding to complete the project.
“Once funding is secured for this project, additional community information meetings will be held,” reads a statement.
Dubbed the Harry Jerome Oval, the new track is supposed to honour the late great athlete.