Bonnyville football club working hard to keep the lights on at Ray Scott Athletic Park – Lakeland TODAY

  • October 13, 2022

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BONNYVILLE – The Bonnyville Amateur Football Association (BAFA) has requested assistance to help keep the lights on at the Ray Scott Athletic Park and Walsh Field. 
“In 2017 Walsh Field was transformed into what it is now,” said BAFA President Kevin Sartain, during a delegation to the MD of Bonnyville on Sept. 28. He explained how the facility is one of only two facilities in all of Alberta where a Level 3 track event could be hosted, and its field is similar to fields used by the National Football League (NFL). 
Throughout the last several years, the operational costs have started to outgrow BAFA. Costs such as insurance and power for outdoor lights continue to increase, for example. 
Sartain explained there are about 120 youth who participate in programming from mid-august to mid-November with the football association, and spring programs are also offered. 
An eight-lane running track is also part of the field and numerous other organizations use the facility throughout the year.  
While the facility meets many high standards, the project was left unfinished. BAFA says it would like to see the project finished in the future, with the help of local municipalities, which includes the creation of changerooms and more track and field amenities.  
But, current ask from the non-profit is for help maintaining the existing park. 
It is estimated that at least 20,000 people use the park every year, although Sartain believes that number could be closer to 30,000. All maintenance of the park is performed by volunteers from BAFA and the Yellowjackets track and field club. 
Sartain said BAFA is not looking for help to run the association, but in the eight months of the year that football isn’t using the field, the non-profit still must pay for maintenance, insurance, and power; therefore, they are looking for financial support to help with maintaining the park.  
Sartain also noted an increase in vandalism. “This one really gets me,” he said.  
In one instance, someone went onto the field a couple weeks ago and cut a hole in it. Volunteers including Sartain fixed the hole, only to have it happen again. 
On the southeast corner of the field, someone lit it on fire. Vandalism has also occurred to the railing up in the stands.  
“I don’t care if I have to spend 10 hours a week… to maintain it (with others),” said Sartain, but the association really would like a bit more help. He noted a request is being sent to the Town of Bonnyville also. 
A request for $12,000 a year is being put before both the MD of Bonnyville and the Town of Bonnyville specifically for maintenance of the park.  
Right now, expenses are $20,000, said Sartain, but that doesn’t include any major maintenance projects. 
Sartain noted the school divisions have committed to contributing $1,500 each.  
During discussions, council expressed concern about how school divisions often aren’t the ones supporting projects such as parks and playgrounds that exist on school property, but instead the municipalities are stepping up to fund the projects. 
Coun. Darcy Skarsen said he would support the request and will be bringing the matter up during future budget discussions. He noted that many other parks and recreation facilities – such as baseball diamonds – are cared for by municipalities and the football field is an exception to that. 
“You just want what everyone else is getting,” said Skarsen, agreeing with the request. 
"We're doing the best we can to keep it running,” said Sartain. 
A motion to accept the delegation as information was carried, along with directing administration to bring back additional information regarding BAFA’s request for funding to a future council meeting. 
About the Author: Janice Huser
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