Sports fields in short supply

A desperate need for sports fields has resurrected longtime plans to develop lands near the North Saskatchewan River west of Rocky Mountain House.

A desperate need for sports fields has resurrected longtime plans to develop lands near the North Saskatchewan River west of Rocky Mountain House.

For a number of years, the plans were delayed.

The plans call for development of the North Saskatchewan River Park into campgrounds, sports fields, baseball diamonds and rectangular fields. The site is already home to Rocky’s pro rodeo grounds.

“It was a stalled project,” Rocky Mountain House Mayor Fred Nash said on Thursday.

“But Rocky is in desperate need of rectangular sports fields right now so we wanted to get things going,” he said.

Town administration is looking at bringing field cost comparisons back to council for their consideration.

The mayor’s preliminary estimate is that it could cost up to $2 million, which would come from a combination of reserves, grant money, community sponsorships and a partnership with neighbouring municipality Clearwater County.

“This year with our football teams doing so well, it became evident that our rectangular sports fields are over-utilized,” Nash said.

Construction on some of the five sports fields planned for the North Saskatchewan River Park will start following Rocky’s pro rodeo in June, with completion scheduled a year later.

One reason the project has been stalled has to do with the costs associated with north and east traffic routes going into the park.

They were identified under a traffic impact study involving both Clearwater County and the Town of Rocky Mountain House.

“There may be a multimillion-dollar expense to both ends with a traffic upgrade because of the line of sight and acceleration lanes that would be needed,” Nash said.

“It’s going to be expensive,” Clearwater County Reeve Pat Alexander agreed on Thursday.

Contributing to the project wasn’t something Clearwater County planned on this year, the reeve said.

“We have no money in the budget this year to do very much with respect to development there,” he said.

“We are prepared to help where we can. We are involved with the town on a 50-50 basis with the operation of all the sports fields now because half of the usage comes from county residents,” he said.

The town and county will meet to discuss the scale of the project on March 22.

jjones@bprda.wpengine.com