Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum says the city will build an “international recognized sanctioned stadium” at Bear Creek Park.
“Part of our whole parks and rec department, and we had a big presentation in council on this, is sports tourism. We want to promote tourism in Surrey. That helps all our small businesses – motels, restaurants, shopping and so forth,” McCallum said.
“We met with a lot of sports facilities, it’s not just track and field, it’ll have some type of football or soccer field probably in the middle of it. We can do other sports that are there as far as the stadium,” he added, noting the stadium would be uncovered.
McCallum said he envisions people coming from all over the world to compete at the stadium and that “we feel it’s a very important project that we need to start on very quickly.”
A city spokesman said it’s expected this project will replace the existing track at the park, instead of being a new track elsewhere in the park.
According to McCallum, money for the project is “in the budget” and he said the city will be “very, very shortly” applying to the federal government for funding as well.
Over the next five years, the city’s five-year capital plan allocates $7 million to the project, which the mayor said he promised to build along the campaign trail.
While McCallum said in December that the stadium could have 12,000 seats, a spokesperson in the Mayor’s Office told the Now-Leader the seating capacity would be in the area of 2,200.
The design work is expected to take roughly two years, at which time a contractor would be sought, city officials say.
As part of the design process, Surrey staff are consulting with the Township of Langley because the new Bear Creek stadium would be similar in size to McLeod Stadium, at 58th Avenue and 214A Street.
The idea of a stadium at Bear Creek is being welcomed by some sports groups in the community.
“We’d definitely love to see some upgrades,” said Jean McPherson with the North Surrey Minor Football Association, which offers programs for children as young as six, all the way up to 18.
The league’s clubhouse is also located within the park.
“The stands and concession building itself are quite old,” McPherson noted. “The city does keep up with minor repairs, but we’d definitely love to see some upgrades to bring more people down to the park and host larger events.”
“We use it almost year-round now,” she said of the track, “so we’re excited for that.”
The existing track at Bear Creek, at 13750 88th Avenue, received a $400,000 facelift in 2012 in anticipation of the BC Summer Games that year.
Universal Athletics Club coach Jessie Dosanjh, meantime, is thrilled about the idea of a stadium at Bear Creek Park. His 120-member club trains at the track, after relocating from its longtime home base at North Surrey Secondary due to concerns about that track becoming too worn.
“We’ve been asking for this for a long time,” Dosanjh said of the project. “It’s so important and we need to have a stadium in this city. Look at our population compared to other cities, and it’s growing. It’s for our youth. It’s for our tourism. It will help produce more athletes, and will be a great base for us.”
Dosanjh noted that Langley is set to host the Canadian track and field championships at its McLeod Stadium in 2021 and 20122. Dosanjh hopes Surrey can follow suit, and host huge tournemants, thanks to this forthcoming project.
“With that, we can promote sports and culture, which is missing now from what I see. I’m very excited,” said Dosanjh, noting “this is a very suitable facility to have a stadium.”
Universal Athletics Club has produced several top-tier athletes, and with a better training facility Dosanjh hopes to see the numbers continue to grow.
“This stadium is going to bring the community together,” he said. “It’s going to be a temple for youth, a temple for our community.”
The mayor’s comments came after Surrey council, in a split 5-4 vote, approved a controversial budget that saw the delay of $136 million in civic amenities previously on the books in an effort to reduce the city’s debt accrual.
Several projects were postponed as a result, including an ice complex in Cloverdale, a community centre and library in Grandview Heights, as well as the acquisition of land for a performing arts centre in City Centre, among other planned projects throughout the city.
The delay of the rink in Cloverdale was adamantly opposed by Cloverdale Minor Hockey Association (CMHA) and Cloverdale Community Association.
Roughly 100 people turned out to a rally in Cloverdale calling on Surrey council to build the rink now, as planned by the former city council.
Marty Jones, CMHA president, said the association only has about half the ice time it needs in Surrey, and has spent upwards on $2 million in ice fees outside the city.
Mike Bola of the Cloverdale Community Association said mayor and council have “broken a lot of families’ and children’s hearts who were looking forward to a rink to play in…. Mayor and council are just looking after themselves, not the city. It’s a really bad start (to their term).”
But the budget, and thus the delays, were approved on Dec. 19, 2018.
Asked on Jan. 14 to comment on the Bear Creek stadium, Bola said he thinks a better location could have been chosen.
“We have the fairgrounds – he can put a stadium there if he wants to,” Bola said of McCallum. “We have lots of parking here that we can provide, too.”
Meantime, construction is underway on a $52-million North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex at 12780 110th Ave., south of Scott Road SkyTrain.
It will have three sheets of ice, community meeting spaces, food services as well as outdoor activity areas, according to the city’s website.
The facility is expected to open this summer.
The three sheets of ice will replace the existing two currently operating at North Surrey Arena.
“We would be ceasing operations (at North Surrey Arena) if everything goes as planned and the North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex is functional this summer, with ice going in this fall,” said Laurie Cavan, Surrey’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture.
“Ultimately we want to have no impact on our community users so there’s consistency,” she said. “What we’re looking for is enhanced opportunities with three sheets instead of two.”
-With a file from Tom Zytaruk