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Abbotsford cricket clubs have no place to play

Jack Tumber has been playing cricket in Abbotsford for almost four decades. He said local clubs have no place to play now that city council has closed the field at Clearbrook Park. - Kevin Mills photo
Jack Tumber has been playing cricket in Abbotsford for almost four decades. He said local clubs have no place to play now that city council has closed the field at Clearbrook Park.
— image credit: Kevin Mills photo

Local cricket players no longer have a place to compete in Abbotsford, say fans of the sport.

Jack Tumber, a long-time member of the Fraser Valley Cricket Club, said an upgrade to the Abbotsford Exhibition Park cricket field has left it unusable until at least the end of summer, and the only other local facility at Clearbrook Park was shut down by the city in June 2011.

On Monday, council denied a request to allow the two local organizations – the Fraser Valley Cricket Club and the Abbotsford Cricket Club – to resume play at the facility.

The two clubs consist of a total of six teams, playing in various divisions of the BC Mainland Cricket League.

The Clearbrook pitch, located at 3680 Clearbrook Rd., was closed due to concerns from neighbouring households. Complaints ranged from loud noise and smoking, to vulgar language and urinating in nearby bushes. The city has even installed sections of chainlink fence to prevent groups from “informally” using the field.

“This is ludicrous what they’ve done. They haven’t given it any thought,” said Tumber.

The cricket season is set to begin with exhibition games already starting, but Tumber said Abbotsford clubs have been “left out of this season’s schedule.”

He said the league told him, unless the field was open, they would not be included.

As for the complaints, Tumber feels a better solution could have been reached, rather than shutting down the field. He said there are no washrooms or change rooms available for players or spectators.

“Cricket can go for six, seven hours. You have children, you have parents, supporters coming to watch. There’s nothing for them.”

At Monday’s council meeting, staff did present other options, including re-opening the facility.

“There was no will by council to put them back into that particular park. We will respect the wishes of the neighbours,” said Abbotsford  Mayor Bruce Banman.

“What council will do is look for another park, of which Clayburn Park may be a viable option.

“The problem is, a cricket pitch takes up an incredibly large piece of land and it’s quite lengthy how long the games last,” added Banman.

The circular-shaped field can vary from 450 to 500 feet in diameter, and the playing area has to have a minimum size of 150 yards from boundary to boundary.

Mark Taylor, Abbotsford’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, said while alternatives are being investigated, the Clayburn Village Association has already “expressed some concerns about the concept” of a cricket field at its community park. And the cost could be as high as $500,000.

Even after the Exhibition Park facility is ready, Taylor said there will still be field shortages. And other sports are also feeling the pinch. The cricket pitch at Exhibition Park is located between two soccer fields and touches on the rugby field.

“To have cricket there, I have to shut down the other fields,” Taylor said.

He said the city’s master plan indicates that Abbotsford is eight fields short for sports in the community, and having to shut the Clearbrook cricket pitch adds more pressure.

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