Fed funds denied for stadium upgrade

City parks staff are recommending Chilliwack still go ahead with a $280,000 upgrade of the grandstand at Exhibition Field.

City parks staff are recommending Chilliwack still go ahead with a $280,000 upgrade of the grandstand at Exhibition Field, despite being denied an additional $250,000 in federal funding for the project.

The city had applied for a community infrastructure grant under the Western Economic Diversity program. However, in March the city learned its application had been turned down.

Despite the setback, staff are recommending a portion of the work still go ahead.

The stadium upgrade is necessary because of an earlier commitment to convert the field to an all-weather surface. The artificial turf will allow the facility to be used year-round, and increase its annual usage to 2,000 hours from the current 160.

But it will also mean the stadium will be used during the winter months – something it currently isn’t designed to do. (Water supplying the uninsulated washrooms, for example, must be shut off to prevent the pipes from bursting in freezing temperatures.)

Retrofitting the washrooms and supplying heat, ventilation and insulation to other areas will cost an estimated $180,000. City staff are also recommending money be spent on a hot water system, electrical upgrades and hand rails for stairs.

Remaining upgrades, like an improved sound system, and side bleacher protection from wind and rain will have to wait.

Installation of new artificial turf field is expected to begin this month and be complete by September. This provides a opportunity to begin work on the stadium, the parks department says in its report to council. “As the field will be decommissioned during this time period this is also the perfect window of opportunity for the grandstand upgrades.”

Money for the city’s $280,000 portion of the $530,000 total cost for the grandstand upgrade is already contained in the 2013 budget.

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