The Kiwanis Club and Grand Erie District School Board hope the City of Brantford will go the distance to make the proposed Brantford Field of Dreams sports facility at Pauline Johnson Collegiate a reality.
Kiwanis and the GEDSB have each committed $400,000 toward the $2 million project, a synthetic field and eight-lane track where youth and community groups could run track and play soccer, rugby, field lacrosse and football.
A representative from each organization appeared at Monday’s city council committee of the whole meeting to ask councillors for a further $400,000 to move the project forward.
“Given Kiwanis’ major emphasis on supporting children’s projects, we see this as a good fit with our values and our goals,” said Kiwanis president Bob Johnson.
Kiwanis’ donation hinges on the school board and city buying in. GEDSB vice chair David Dean said the proposed Colborne Street East facility was an easy sell for the board. On top of its initial $400,000 donation, the board will cover future operating expenses and look after administration, including bookings.
Brantford is in “dire need” of a recreation centre in the city’s southeast, said Field of Dreams vice chair Neal Stamer. If his group builds it, Stamer hopes youth from every ward will come to the multi-sport field, which will boost the city’s image and help revitalize the area.
Coun. David Neumann is confident that the Field of Dreams would be well used and add “a spark of life” to the Echo Place neighbourhood, which has recently lost a bowling alley and grocery store.
“By partnering with the school board, we will ensure that this becomes… more than just a school facility, but a community facility,” Neumann said.
The city would receive a $2 million facility for a one-time $400,000 investment without needing to manage or maintain it, Mayor Chris Friel noted. Friel endorsed the plan.
“I look forward to seeing this begin and really be a catalyst for a wonderful opportunity and a wonderful partnership,” he said.
The facility would be open to boys and girls sports clubs and be accessible to athletes with disabilities. The Field of Dreams committee has asked the Brantford Galaxy Soccer Club, Brantford Track and Field Club and Brant and District Football Club for input into the facility’s design.
Stamer said that, as of yet, the committee has not partnered with any post-secondary institutions, but talks continue.
The committee is looking for $250,000 in upfront city funding to secure the Kiwanis donation, with the balance to be paid out over three years.
Councillors directed staff to seek out an extra $250,000 and present a funding plan at the Sept. 24 city council meeting.