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Full steam ahead for sports park upgrades
Hamlet keeps up with growing youth population

Michele LeTourneau
Northern News Services
Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The new Arviat sport park is coming together this week as installation crews were due to arrive Aug. 7 to outfit the grounds.

NNSL photo/graphic

Malachi Poungalak, left, Peter Aningat and Peter Nibgoarsi finish off the last pieces of wiring to complete the rock barrier surrounding the new sports park in Arviat to ensure against vehicular vandalism. - photo courtesy of Jamie Okatsiak

The park, a large outdoor recreation facility, is a major expansion to keep up with an expanding youth population.

"We've had a sports area in town for somewhere around 20 years. It's just consisted of a small gravel baseball diamond and a small playground and picnic area," said director of community development Keith Collier.

"A couple of years ago the hamlet decided they really wanted to expand that because we have a very large and rapidly growing youth population here. We've got a lot of pressure on our recreational facilities. The hamlet made it a priority, started raising money, started dedicating some hamlet resources to it and we've finally reached the point this year where we've started to make major expansions."

Summer students have been hard at work over the summer preparing the ground and building a rock-wall barrier to ward against vandalism, especially all-terrain and other vehicles ripping up the turf.

"It's a pretty hefty wall of rock. They're basically wire baskets filled with rock," says Collier, adding the recreational footprint has been doubled.

"First of all we're going to put artificial turf on the existing baseball diamond," said Collier. "Then we're installing a brand new soccer pitch with artificial turf. We're also putting in an outdoor basketball court."

Collier says artificial surfaces increase the ability to train and play properly.

"It's really hard to play any kind of sports, especially soccer ... trying to run in loose sand and loose gravel. It's not easy. It's really hard to try and control a ball, hard to pick up any kind of speed as well. This will make a much more comfortable and safer playing surface."

Collier also notes the new surfaces are great news for local organizations and sports teams, increasing their options.

"And there's a bit of an economic development opportunity too, because in the summertime we can look at hosting some small tournaments."

The cost is considerable.

"We're looking at a couple of years of work. It's a substantial investment. When all is said and done in a couple of years, it will be well over a million dollars," Collier said.

An indoor, all-season facility is not possible.

"You're looking at millions of dollars for something this size that could house this many activities. But five months of use is not bad. And, not to get too far ahead of myself, there's always the option down the road of putting a tent like they put over fields down south. It's an option, an expensive one, but that could increase the playing time. That's not in the plans right now."

However, the expansion is absolutely worth it for youth.

"Fifty to 60 per cent of the people here are youth. The proportion is rapidly growing. We're the second largest community in Nunavut right now, over 3,000 people, and we don't really have the facilities to match the population. This is a big step to put some facilities in place for the people."

A short animated video is available on the Hamlet of Arviat's Facebook page for readers who would like a glimpse of what the completed project may look like.

"It's an artist's conception. It's not exactly the scale and not exactly accurate, but it gives you a bird's eye view of what it's going to look like," said Collier

If all goes well, the youth and sports-minded of Arviat will be getting a few weeks of playing time at the new facilities before the snow flies.

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