Track facility targeted for six-figure makeover

The City of Chilliwack and Chilliwack School District will invest more than $600,000 into refurbishing the 21 year old track.

The Chilliwack Track and Field complex at Sardis secondary school is getting a long-overdue makeover this summer.

Chilliwack City Council approved the project at Tuesday’s meeting.

The cost will be $643,905 plus taxes, split between the City and the Chilliwack School District.

Those funds will pay for a polyurethane-bound rubber synthetic top coat that will extend the life of the eight-lane track another 15-20 years.

Both parties have been setting aside money each year knowing the track was nearing the end of its life-span.

The plot of land it occupies is half owned by the City and half owned by the District.

One of the first rubberized tracks in BC, it dates back 21 years to the 1993 BC Summer Games.

“It’s been a very good facility, and it still looks fine if you don’t look too closely,” said Chilliwack Track and Field president Roberta Smith. “But if you look closely you start to notice the signs of wear and tear.”

Smith said the railing system is outdated, and some of the guttering that runs along the edge has been pulled up. Though signs are posted asking people to stay off of lane one, it is still heavily used by walkers and runners.

“And with heavy use it becomes smoother, not bumpy like it’s supposed to be,” Smith explained. “When it’s not bumpy, the athletes don’t have as much traction.”

Some problems won’t be fixed by the makeover.

The area behind the school seems to be a hangout for bored teens.

Smith’s club often arrives to find bottles, broken or otherwise, littering the track.

And the facility has endured several attacks by vandals.

“Two Halloweens ago someone poured gas or some sort of flammable liquid on the track and tried to light it on fire,” she said. “So there are burn marks on it. There’s been some horrible damage done to it.”

There are no guarantees the renewed track won’t suffer the same fate, but that doesn’t diminish the excitement.

“It’s going to be the same surface, and they are working within a budget,” Smith said. “But all the user-groups were asked to provide wish-lists, and the District tried as hard as possible to accommodate us.”

The simple things will mean the most. Smith’s club will benefit from new lines, with the old ones fading over the years.

“Plus, we’ll move some of the event venues around a bit,” she added. “Right now the pole vault is at the far end of the field, as far away from the field- house as it can get. We’ll move that closer so we don’t have to carry that big mat all the way across the field. We’re looking at other things too, like maybe moving the long jump out of the infield.”

Work is set to start in July.

Tender for the project closed June 11 with Ocean Marker Sport Surfaces getting the nod.

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