Rugby group commits to repair Willow Point Park fieldhouse in Campbell River

Rugby group commits to renovate Willow Point fieldhouse in exchange for priority use of the facility

The Campbell River Athletic Association says it will repair and renovate this vacant fieldhouse at the Sportsplex in exchange for priority use of the building.

For years, local rugby coaches have been giving more than just their time; they’ve also been giving up storage space in their homes.

Without a home base or a headquarters, the Campbell River Athletic Association has had to make do with what it has. And that means that coaches are bringing their team’s equipment home with them.

“We’ve got everything stored at our coaches’ homes and we’re dragging balls and flags to the fields every week,” said Erin Young, president of the Campbell River Athletic Association.

The solution?

Convert the small fieldhouse, which currently sits vacant near the bocce court and upper ball field at Willow Point Park, into a functioning space.

Young presented that proposal to council on Oct. 11 and on Monday evening, council directed city staff to work with the Athletic Association to develop a lease agreement that will give the association priority use of the fieldhouse.

In exchange, the Athletic Association has committed to repair and replace soffit, fascia, the roof capping, as well as clean and paint the interior and exterior of the building. A possible second phase, beyond the year 2018, would add to the existing structure.

“The fieldhouse will get immediate upgrades and be in use two to three times weekly, year-round by Campbell River Athletic Association,” Young said.

In addition to storing equipment, the association intends to use the fieldhouse as changerooms and a concession when hosting rugby practices or competitions.

Anthony La Carte, rugby development officer with BC Rugby, said having a permanent structure will help rugby grow in Campbell River.

“The lease of a fixed facility would allow the association to build an identity and home within the community and increase the amount of players and coaches involved in rugby,” La Carte said. “A new rugby clubhouse would also give the Campbell River Athletic Association the ability to host more events and bring people into the community.”

Young said that the association, when it does host events, sets up portable tents and relies on various city and school facilities.

“All equipment is stored off-site and volunteers move it around as needed,” Young said. “We strongly believe having our own fieldhouse will allow us to train and host competitions at one location and set of fields, increasing our exposure and identity in the community.”

The association has committed to put up $10,000 towards repairing the fieldhouse, as well as a second request of the city – to convert the gravel field at Willow Point Park into a sod field.

“In talking to other user groups we found no user groups like its current gravel surface,” Young said. “We are asking it to be turned from gravel to either grass or artificial turf if funding can be found.”

Young said preliminary costs indicate that it would cost roughly $60,000 to put a sod playing surface on the gravel field.

But Young said she believes the investment, combined with the nearby fieldhouse, would pay off in the long term.

“The facility will support hosting events like rugby tournaments and ball tournaments and will aid in the bidding process for BC Summer Games, BC Seniors Games, etc.,” she said, adding that the association will commit to working with the city to pursue further funding initiatives and opportunities to go towards the field.

At Monday’s council meeting, councillors decided to hold off on making a decision regarding the gravel field until its financial planning meetings which are scheduled for early September.