By Doug Hallett
City hall will take a close look at the Speed River Track & Field Club’s plea for the city to pay the $800,000 cost of building the second phase of a world-class track complex at the University of Guelph.
After hearing the request last Thursday, with the public gallery at city hall packed with members of the local running community, council unanimously approved a motion to refer the issue to city staff for follow-up.
“We hope through this (project) to show that Guelph muscle and Guelph mind and Guelph spirit can work as well as anybody on the planet,” said Dave Scott-Thomas, head coach of the Speed River Track & Field Club, a
registered not-for-profit organization.
The club recently finished a track stadium at the U of G that is described as world-class. It was financed by the university, the club, private donors and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, says material provided to city
Now the club wants to build a second phase consisting of a “jumps complex” for sports such as pole vaulting and long jump, and, at a different location on campus, a “throws complex” for such sports as shot put and hammer and discus throwing.
It’s asking the city to pay the entire $800,000 cost of this second phase over four years.
The club’s request has the backing of local MPP Frank Valeriote, who said in a Nov. 28 letter to the city that the project would “create a world-class facility which would allow the club and our city to host national- and international-class meets.”
“This proposal will benefit the athletic community, bring the city together in sport and contribute to our community’s prosperity,” Valeriote said in urging the city to look favourably at the club’s financial request.
The club estimates a throws complex would cost $550,000, while a jumps complex would cost $250,000.
Scott-Thomas told council that the accomplishments of Guelph-based runners have been winning a lot of national publicity for the city.
“Our model doesn’t really exist anywhere else in Canada,” he said of the local club.
In replying to a question from Coun. Ian Findlay about what would happen if city hall turns down the funding request, Scott-Thomas said the club would then approach the private sector and look for other ways to get the phase two project built.
“We’re going to get this done,” he vowed.
Noting that the city has funded other local facilities in the past, Coun. Leanne Piper asked Scott-Thomas if he’d be willing to work with the local school boards to maximize use of the new facility that he wants to build.
“The more people we can partner with, the more people we can provide access for, the better,” he responded affirmatively.
The end of his presentation was greeted with loud applause from the gallery.