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Park Board approves motion proposing a new hockey field in South Vancouver

After much deliberation by councillors and public speakers on Monday and Tuesday evenings, the Vancouver Park Board passed a motion calling for a new artificial turf field in a south Vancouver park.

A new artificial turf field was recommended to be installed at Moberly Park on East 59 Avenue, primarily for hockey players. Funding of $8.3 million was approved for this purpose.

The meeting saw an influx of speakers in support of the artificial turf field, many of whom discussed the lack of facilities and equipment improvements in the park.

Speakers said the youth need a modern and safe facility to live a productive lifestyle, adding that their children should redirect themselves to parks further from their neighborhoods to meet their recreational needs.

Among the speakers were many members of hockey professionals who supported the motion.

Penny Cooper, president of the Vancouver Hawks, was also present and supported the motion.

“It has been recommended for over a decade that the next turf in Vancouver will be a hockey turf,” she said. “We are saying as a community that this is something that is overdue.”

She says Moberly Park is a great location for this site because there are many young people who need the space in that area as an alternative to traveling all the way to UBC.

“So there is equity,” she said.

Ian McKenzie, hockey representative for the Hawks, also spoke in front of the lawn. He said Moberly’s location is important because research done in 2020 showed that many registered players lived in the Moberly area.

“In 2020, I got a list of zip codes from the provincial agency, downloaded them all into a little card thingy, and they had a really nice card… Moberly really hit a big chunk of those registered players,” he said.

Alex Bayer, the executive director of the Vancouver Hawks Field Hockey Club, also spoke in favor of the motion, saying the proposed motion would include other athletes in addition to hockey players.

“All other sports can be played on a hockey field. All other sports that can use the turf can be played on a hockey grass. There is no problem with football, lacrosse, ultimate frisbee, all of it,” he said.

Bayer also says that hockey is a female-led sport, and supporting it would be very important.

“We have a totally unique membership of 798, of which 80 percent are women and 20 percent are men… This is an era in which the involvement of women, especially young women and girls, is declining. And it is a serious problem. “I think supporting a sport that is so heavily female-led would be really important,” he said.

Teresa Schwartz, a hockey player with the Vancouver Women’s Field Hockey Association, says an artificial turf would be safer for players.

“An artificial turf field specifically for field hockey provides a safe environment for all players of all ages,” she said.

Schwartz says a special hockey-specific turf field would facilitate the development of sport-specific skills.

“Would you ask an ice hockey team to play on a curling rink? No, or maybe if there were no other options,” she said. “As a parent of a daughter who plays for the junior national team, it was important to have a smart, dedicated field in our area so she could start at the grassroots level of the community.”

The board meeting began Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. and an overwhelming number of speakers spoke unanimously for four hours in support of the motion. The motion was passed on Tuesday evening after the council reconvened.