THUNDER BAY – Soccer Northwest Ontario has, and continues to be in support of the proposed city indoor turf facility. Throughout the years, we have looked at every viable option and location for a facility such as this. Countless volunteer hours and dollars have been spent gathering information and speaking to user groups both from within the soccer community, as well as the greater sorting community. From the very beginning, Soccer Northwest has been advocating for a permanent steel structure facility that can house every potential turf user group.
While myriad options were discussed, looked into and even invested in, it has always come back to a permanent structure; A facility that Thunder Bay has never had, with the potential of serving more users than any other city facility we currently have.
When we set out on our goal of trying to make this a reality, we always knew we needed something for as many citizens of Thunder Bay as possible. This facility would not just be for soccer, but for our Community. There have been many ups and downs throughout this process, but no matter what, the same answers always remain – A permanent steel structure facility is needed and it will show a profit. The one regret we have after our countless volunteer hours is that we couldn’t convince council sooner. We feel sorry to the young children who are missing out on scholarships and for the parents who have had to send their kids away so they have more opportunities. The longer we wait, the more it costs, and the more our youth lose out on opportunities available to youth across the country.
It has been almost four years since our soccer groups have had a place to run our full programs. For four years we have had to tell our youth sorry we don’t have a place for you to play. For four years our women’s league has not been able to play a season on turf. Four years ago Soccer Northwest Ontario came back to council with an idea that was presented a decade ago – A permanent indoor turf facility. But unlike previous presentations, Soccer Northwest assisted financially in obtaining plans and business case studies from Stantec. Once again, the idea was pushed aside while other short term, potential options were looked at; more studies were done, more surveys, more public meetings and as always, it was determined the permanent steel structure is the best way to go. As a result of all of this we have lost time and money, and the costs have risen. We need the support of our council to make the right decision for the future. The longer we wait the more we lose, and the more expensive any project costs.
If this pandemic has shown us anything, its how important it is for all of us to be physically active and be with our peers – we worry for our youth. No one has been hit as hard as them throughout all of this. We need to give them and our city something to look forward too. Something so many can benefit from. Whether its the young child taking up a sport, or the senior citizen looking for a place to walk in the winter, this facility will provide for all ages and abilities. The soccer groups alone were looking at using more than 80% of the field time available as our numbers are simply that strong. When the city looked into it they decided soccer’s share of the facility should be roughly 54% of the field time. How did our soccer groups respond? The same way we always have, with excitement knowing this facility could be viable, and help so many others as well. The soccer community has always been a cohesive group, going back to when we had two fields to play on and there were never enough hours and the facilities were never adequate. The soccer groups would meet before every season to equitably divvy the hours and see how we could help each other out. If one succeeds we all succeed.
Through the history of soccer in our community, our groups have never gone to the city for money. Soccer is the largest sports group in Thunder Bay, and yet we have always done it on our own. So here we are, finally asking for help To take the next step in a facility that will help so many more than just the soccer community. We know we can fill the facility and make it a success. Our user groups will be contributing 100s of thousands of dollars a year in user fees. We also know that all of the other potential user groups won’t have a place to play if we can’t make this happen. Once again, we want to be the leader for all of the groups. We have been there from day one, never missing a meeting and answering every single call. We have done whatever work has been asked of us and we have done it with pleasure.
Never has this been asked of a user group, but here we are anyway, working towards a goal and we want to continue that. We have been waiting for the facility to take the next step so we can begin our fundraising campaign. We want to raise as much money as possible to help with the costs and donate whatever money we can. Every dollar we raise can make the facility more affordable and maybe even then more accessible to those who don’t have as much to give so everyone has the opportunity to enjoy it.
Those who know our board, know how passionate and dedicated we are to this project. You know how hard we have worked and will continue to work towards this goal. It is often said “the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour”. Then you can know for certain that we will be there every step of the way, doing whatever we can to make this a reality. Unfortunately, the final decision isn’t in our hands. We have never asked for any money, and we have never needed to be subsidized to run our programs. We are here today asking for you to make the right choice and help out thousands in our community and provide them a facility that will last many generations. We need to learn from our mistakes and choose to move forward with this project. If not, this will come back to future councils, and we will have lost more time and it will cost even more money. As citizens and parents in our community, the potential cost of not investing in this facility is just too great.
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