Delta hopes to have the city’s first cricket pitch up and running by spring.
On Monday, Feb. 11, Delta council endorsed a report by city staff to install the pitch between two baseball diamonds at Delview Park. According to the report, there are some 200 cricket players in North Delta and the “lack of a cricket field in Delta is becoming more pronounced with the increasing interest in the sport.”
Delta director of parks, recreation and culture Ken Kuntz told council the city is trying to “resurrect” the project after the department went on a break ahead of the municipal election last October. He called the installation “relatively small” and that previous consultations showed the soccer community favoured the Delview Park location over other suggestions at the time.
“In terms of [baseball] diamonds, we can certainly schedule the activities of both cricket and baseball in an unimpeded way,” Kuntz told council. “All activities can occur, so we want to bring this forward in time for us to design it and install it before the spring weather.”
The installation of a cricket pitch would involve laying down a strip clay or asphalt and covering it with a “low-profile synthetic turf surface on which the bowler pitches the ball to the batter,” according to the city report.
Fifteen-foot-high safety netting is also planned along the eastern perimeter of the pitch where there is currently an off-leash dog park. The city is willing to put down $35,000 for the construction, which would come out of the 2019 capital plan.
The report noted that a new shelter and washroom upgrades for Delview Park are already included in the 2019 capital plan, and staff are currently working on the designs. It also says the cricket players have asked to have a cricket batting cage at the field, though that remains only a possibility at this stage and not part of the immediate plan.
As well, the report says that staff have received comments that the enclosed off-leash are at Delview Park is too small, suggesting it might be better to relocate it to another area of the park and expand it.
Harjit Sandhu, president of the BC Mainland Cricket League, welcomed council’s decision. He said Delta’s 200 players currently play with teams in Surrey, Burnaby and Richmond, and with the creation of a local pitch there is now a chance to start local teams as well — in fact, Sandhu has already started the process of creating one. However, he added, for that many players — who could fill up to a dozen teams — a single pitch is still not enough.
“It’s still a good start. We’re very excited,” said Sandhu, who also plays for Cosmos Cricket Club in Surrey. “Right now players are all over. At Cosmos, I got 60 per cent from Surrey, I got six players from Delta, but I am pretty sure those people playing in different teams right now will try to get together to make more Delta teams.”
He said having a pitch in North Delta, and perhaps even local teams, would be beneficial for the whole community, especially the South Asian population which Sandhu said includes a big contingent of newcomers and international students.
“There have been a lot of players, and a lot of teams requesting [the installation of a pitch] from Delta because we don’t have the facilities,” Sandhu said. “If we’re going to keep our students out of gangs and focused, then no matter what sports you play, they kind of teach you competing and overcoming challenges.”
In order to accommodate all of Delta’s players, Sandhu said the city would ideally have three to four cricket pitches, suggesting building one at Mackie Park, for example.
“There are some options, but unfortunately they’re all booked right now with soccer and some other [sports],” he said. “We will work with the city and whatever opportunity comes, but we got something going and we just got to build on it.”
Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon said he spoke with Mayor George Harvie late last year about getting a pitch built after coming across people playing cricket in Delview Park using makeshift plastic wickets.
“[Mayor George Harvie] expressed interest in also seeing a facility or field established in Delta, which I am delighted about,” Kahlon told the Reporter. “Ideally, it’d be nice to have the pitch for this year’s summer cricket league, so that would probably be in late April.”
Kahlon, who spoke with the Reporter prior to the release of the staff report, estimated the final price tag for the construction to be around $75,000, though he said he didn’t know what money would be available to pay for the project. He said he’s exploring ways to get grants from a number of provincial ministries to cover help cover the cost.
“I can say that it’s something that I am very keen to see and have been an advocate for two years now, and my hope is that if not this year, then by next year, we’ll be having something,” Kahlon said.
City staff proposed neighbourhood consultations as the project’s next step.