Farmland surrounding DeLair Park is included in a long-term plan to look for space for new sports fields in Abbotsford. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Farmland surrounding DeLair Park is included in a long-term plan to look for space for new sports fields in Abbotsford. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

No immediate plan to convert farmland to sports fields

Abbotsford lacks ball diamonds and other fields, but solution could prove controversial

Abbotsford’s growing population needs more sports fields and ball diamonds, but a potentially controversial solution won’t come before council anytime soon.

Local sports groups have told the city they want a “multi-sport tournament centre” that can host large events at a central location. And last week, politicians received a new report showing that demand outstrips the supply of Abbotsford’s baseball diamonds and that the city has fewer sports fields per capita than neighbouring communities.

Steve Coleman of the Abbotsford Angels Hardball Association says that the lack of centrally located facilities makes it difficult to attract teams to tournaments, which help organizations raise funds and keep fees low.

“Without enough fields available, we are pitted against each other trying to show why one organization needs the fields more than the other,” Coleman said. “Rather than battling each other, many of us envision a multi-sport facility where all of our organizations work together on initiatives. Together we will be much stronger and we can help each other grow.”

He said it also makes life difficult for parents with multiple children playing baseball.

Faced with little available room to accommodate new fields, Abbotsford’s 2016 Official Community Plan set aside two blocks of properties in the Agricultural Land Reserve that could be eyed as a location for future new sports fields. Those blocks of land include parcels south of the University of the Fraser Valley and around near DeLair Park, and their conversion would require the approval of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC).

Such a plan may prove controversial. Last year, dozens spoke up against plans to ask for the removal of farmland from the ALC in order to provide room for industrial growth. It’s unclear whether the parks properties would get to that stage, or what the response would be. The two “special study areas” are smaller in scale and converting them to sports fields won’t have as large an impact on the surrounding area as in the industrial blocks, but some of the same concerns surrounding the loss of farmland would remain.

Mayor Henry Braun told The News last week the special study areas haven’t been a focus for the city as it develops a range of master plans and neighbourhood plans in the wake of the OCP adoption.

“We have enough things on our plate right now,” he said.

The study presented to council last week that showed the need for sports fields was commissioned for the parks, recreation and culture master plan, but didn’t mention the special study areas at all. Braun said the study areas aren’t dead, but rather part of the long-term planning for Abbotsford’s future.

“We have an obligation as elected leaders to look to the future,” he said.

Coleman said baseball groups have been hearing about long-term plans for the area around DeLair Park for years. While he gave the city credit for improving several local parks, he said the city is badly in need of new fields now.

Ian Knight of the Abbotsford Soccer Association said there continues to be significant demand for fields, particularly during weekends.

“It is becoming something of a struggle because everyone wants the same time slots,” he said. The construction of new turf fields near W.J. Mouat Secondary school has been a boon, but see huge demand – especially when the weather forces the closure of some pitches, as the rain has done in recent weeks. The same goes for the city’s relatively few indoor facilities.


@ty_olsen
tolsen@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Two blocks of land – one adjacent to the University of the Fraser Valley, the other around DeLair Park – have been identified as possible locations for future sports fields.

Two blocks of land – one adjacent to the University of the Fraser Valley, the other around DeLair Park – have been identified as possible locations for future sports fields.

Just Posted

...
Trevor Eros bows out of Abbotsford municipal byelection

Business owner, pro wrestler cites more time for family and delay in byelection date as reasons

W. A. Fraser middle school teacher Carrie Roger and mom Pam are heading a project in which students are creating Earth Day artwork to be placed in fabric bags made and donated by volunteer group Fabric Bag Solution. The bags will be donated to front-line workers. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford school and sewing group team up for Earth Day project

Students create artwork for homemade, donated fabric bags for front-line workers

A ambulance drives past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
9 Lower Mainland hospitals to postpone non-urgent surgeries as hospitalizations surge

Record number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals across B.C.

Letisha Reimer, 13, was killed Nov. 1, 2016 in a stabbing at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
UPDATED: Second-degree murder conviction stands for Abbotsford school killer

Judge finds that Gabriel Klein is criminally responsible for death of Letisha Reimer

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

Willoughby condo fire at 208th Street and 80th Avenue on April 19, 2021. (Shane MacKichan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley Fire: the aftermath of the inferno

The scene remains active as investigators work to determine a cause

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

A Mercedes SUV is covered at a gas station in the Clayton area following a deadly shooting there on Sept. 28, 2019. Carlos Monteith, the man charged in the Clayton shooting, was sentenced April 22 on charges related to a different shooting in New West in November, 2019. (File photo)
Man gets 6.5 years in prison for shooting as he awaits trial for separate Cloverdale slaying

Carlos Nathaniel Monteith sentenced for possessing a prohibited weapon and discharging a firearm with intent

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

So far, 15 gang-related killings have occurred across Metro Vancouver in 2021. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Police report 15 gang-linked killings in Metro Vancouver in 2021 as tensions escalate

The situation has flared up again, as tensions dating back to 2008 between the UN gang and rivals including the Red Scorpions, Independent Soldiers and the Wolf Pack escalate

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read