Council to get update on condition of sports fields

The following article appeared in the June 18 edition of the Guelph Mercury. Correction note: This report will be presented to the Operations/Transit committee at 5pm on Monday June 20.

Heavy rains and warm temperatures have left the city’s sports fields with long, thick grass that’s not ideal for most sports.

But Alan Gould, the executive director of Guelph Soccer, applauds the city for its efforts to keep the fields playable thus far.

“We do have to factor in the weather conditions and what that has done to the fields,” Gould said Friday.

On Monday night, Guelph council will be presented with an update on the turf and sports fields’ situation in the city.

That report covers everything from what problems the weather has led to, a listing of problematic parks, the overtime used to keep fields playable so far this year, and the shift to being more proactive in communicating field conditions to users.

The report will also touch on the fact that there are not enough fields to allow fields to be rested.

Murray Cameron, the general manager of park maintenance and development, said the weather has led to some serious challenges.

“We’re not alone in this. Almost every municipality has been closing fields,” Cameron said.

As of Friday afternoon, the only sports field listed as closed on the city website was Peter Misersky in the east end.

“We had a heck of a time with that field. The water was ponding on it,” Cameron said.

Guelph Soccer, with 3,800 players, uses 21 sports fields for its program.

Gould said long grass and cut grass residue have been major issues so far.

“We have a system called ‘shout out’ where people can report field problems right away,” Gould said. “We’ve been inundated over the first two or three weeks of the season with calls. Not only about the length of the grass, but conditions after the grass has been cut.”

Cameron said in some cases, fields have been cut three times on one visit to try and chop up the thick grass left behind after a single cut.

Machinery getting stuck in mud and accidental damage to wet fields has also been a problem.

Gould said in most cases the city’s response to the soccer club’s concerns on field conditions has been good, but he’s worried about potential problems later in the season when the parks budget starts running out of money.

“That’s a challenge,” Cameron said.

Gould said the soccer club needs more fields and is currently using fields at St. John’s-Kilmarnock school near Maryhill.

“It’s not just about being an advocate for soccer, it’s about being an advocate for a healthy lifestyle and getting kids active,” Gould said.