Construction officially began Friday on the redevelopment of two sports fields in Martindale, including a long-awaited artificial turf field that will be the first of its kind in northeast Calgary.
The Genesis Centre’s north grass field is being upgraded, while the south field will soon be transformed to include artificial turf, new lighting, fencing and bleachers.
When completed, players will be able to use the turf field into the evenings. It will extend the playing season from April until November for sports like soccer, field hockey and football, without the maintenance required by a grass field.
And while there are nearly 80 similar fields around Calgary, this one will be the first for residents in the city’s far northeast.
“This project is extremely important for me, as when I was first elected, I noticed these fields were under constant repair and rehabilitation,” Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal said at a press conference on Friday.
The upgrades were one of Chahal’s first notices of motion in 2018, and it’s a cause close to his heart.
“This is about equity and opportunity for our children, for our families, and for those seniors who have the opportunity to use those walking paths … and enjoy the beautiful weather.”
Health and wellness needs to be ‘priority,’ says Chahal
Chahal asked his city hall colleagues to invest in artificial turf for the centre about three years ago.
Conversations with community members made him realize there was a lack of recreational opportunities in that quadrant of the city, he said Friday.
Furthermore, the Genesis Centre’s grass fields were in poor condition, and a multi-purpose field was badly needed for various sports and community events.
“I think it’s important to note that these fields … will enhance the opportunities for ethno-cultural communities in northeast Calgary to participate in sport,” Chahal said.
“[And] the pandemic has shown us that health and wellness needs to be a priority for our city.”
Funded by Genesis Centre, province and city
Funding for the project was secured from the provincial government, the city and the Genesis Centre, each providing $2 million, for a total of $6 million.
“This particular project, I am just so excited about, because it’s been waiting for so very long,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said at Friday’s announcement.
“And that artificial turf field … is going to be amazing.”
Construction is projected to be completed by the end of 2021 and ready for community use in summer 2022.
Nenshi said that while visiting the construction site Friday, he let workers know he was hopeful the project would finish on time.
“I did remind them that I only have 199 days left, and I would really like to cut that ribbon,” he said.