The need to remediate a field of mini-soccer pitches on Olympic Drive brought home the ongoing need for additional soccer fields in Dundas.
When city parks staff approached Dundas Youth Soccer Club with a plan to bring the deteriorating field back to form earlier this year, club president Troy Thompson explained there were no spaces available to pick up the slack.
“They wanted to shut the fields for the season,” Thompson said. “It would cripple our season.”
Parks manager Tennessee Propedo said the project was delayed because there are no back-up fields available to replace the mini-fields on top of a former community landfill.
“We decided to do it at the end of their season – that’s the first week of September,” Propedo said. “Once they’re finished their soccer program, we’ll get in there and do the work.”
The DYSC will use the Olympic mini-pitches for their Championship Day on Saturday, Sept. 7 to close out the season.
Because the field is build on the former landfill, Propedo said there are problems with the ground “settling” and creating uneven area or ruts that need to be leveled.
“It’s very wavy,” Thompson said. “If we had to play a full game on it, it wouldn’t be safe. For mini-fields, it’s playable I guess. It definitely needs (remediation).”
The club of more than 1,200 young soccer players couldn’t afford to lose any of the fields it currently uses – because it’s bursting at the seams as is.
Youth soccer volunteers have talked for several years about the need for additional fields in Dundas. In 2011, Thompson’s Under-10 Girls team – the Dundas Dragons – worked hard to be named a finalist in the cross-Canada BMO Team of the Week competition.
The grand prize winner received $125,000 toward a new, or improved, soccer field.
With the City of Hamilton short by 19 soccer fields, the contest was a perfect opportunity to push for at least one new field.
“Those girls worked their butts off,” Thompson said. “They built some momentum and some awareness of what was needed.”
When the grand prize went elsewhere, Thompson said there was disappointment – but also an interest in building on the momentum the girls started.
“It didn’t go anywhere,” Thompson said, adding minor hockey takes a lot of money from the municipal coffers. “Soccer is a growing sport. Hockey is a religion.”
He noted there are also limited spaces to add full size hockey fields in Dundas due to its geographic location within a valley surrounded by escarpment, and a large amount of conservation property.
One property that attracted attention from the soccer club previously is the large, unused lot at the corner of King Street East and Olympic Drive – not far from the Olympic sports park.
Already zoned for recreational uses like soccer fields, 201 King St. E. is otherwise covered by extensive development limitations. Previous proposals for a parking lot and a self-serve storage facility were hotly opposed by the community and politicians.
“If the club keeps growing, you’re not going to have anywhere to play,” Thompson said.