City of FSJ moves ahead with plans for $1.4 million redevelopment of Surerus Park soccer fields

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Major changes are coming to the soccer fields at Surerus Park in Fort St John. The park is home to two soccer pitches which have been there since the park's 2 phase construction in 1986 and 1993.

Since the fields opened, conditions have deteriorated to the point where they are no longer being used by the Fort St. John Soccer Club. President of the club Darren Snider says its been at least 4 years since the fields were used for games and practices.

"We didn't use it for the last couple years [because of] Covid and then we didn't use it for two or three years before Covid."

That will soon change as the City of Fort St John has agreed to award the tender for a redevelopment of the fields to Northern Legendary Construction Ltd., a local business in Charlie Lake. Making changes to the park and fields is estimated to cost the city just shy of $1.4 million.

City of Fort St. John Communications Coordinator Ryan Harvey says the challenge of trying to make the field usable will hopefully be solved with the new redevelopment.

"The field and the pitches have had challenges over the years. Dating back a number of years now [the city has] done various fixes or tried to get different things to happen. Basically, none of those fixes have worked. It's time to rebuild those pitches."

Plans for the redevelopment include the installation of irrigation, trail lighting, and a new trail between the two pitches staring at 105th Avenue and connecting to the exisiting trails.

The soccer club says they were notified previously by the city letting them know the fields would be unavailable for the next two years. Now that they know the reason why, Snider says the club is happy with the announcement.

"We're going to have good surfaces to play on, that part's exciting for the club. We [will] have good quality fields for competition. If you invite a Grande Prairie or a Dawson Creek [team] from out of town to play games, you have somewhere to play, somewhere nice to play."

Construction of the project is expected to finish sometime in 2023. Temporary closures of the walking paths in the daytime will be expected while crews are working. The fields are estimated to stay closed until 2024 in order to make sure the newly planted grass fills in properly. Harvey says the city hopes the upgrades will have a positive impact on those that use the pitches in the future.

"I know it's been a couple years where the pitch has been virtually unusable because of the state of conditions on it. I know it will be a couple of years before it's usable again. The hope it and the plan is that [the city has] done this right and it will be usable for many years to come."