Masich Place Stadium access to be limited

If you thought a nice early morning run or late evening walk on the track at the newly-refurbished Masich Place Stadium is in your future, you might want to think again.

Gone are the days of unfettered access to the wonderful field and track that is Masich Place. The new field and track is fenced and access to the track, which untold numbers of Prince George residents enjoyed freely, will be controlled. That doesn’t mean you can’t drop by and go for a walk or run on the track. What it does mean is you can only do it when the field is ‘open.’

“The City is currently working on a schedule for the track at Masich Place Stadium, in part to accommodate those who wish to use the track on a drop-in basis,” said Mike Kellett, city senior communication officer, in an email to me when I asked about access. “Further information about booking the track and field as well as rules and regulations for facility users and user groups can be found on the City website.”

More information will be posted closer to opening day, he added.

City public works director Gina Layte-Liston was a little more direct, telling the Prince George Citizen that walkers and runners will be limited to a “concentrated period of time from the early morning to early afternoon.”

I don’t think that’s what most citizens had in mind in 2017 when the city closed the stadium for renos that were supposed to take six months. Like most renos, the cost increased and the timeline expanded. When the closed the field last May, the budget was $4.2 million, in August of 2017 it was a $4.4 million project, and now it is a $4.8 million project. In fairness, the city did decide to upgrade the bleachers, which added to the cost.

However, I wonder where the money will come from to have a staff person at the field, on an ongoing basis, to monitor users.

The issue has upset a few people who envisioned a new track which, like the old, was open all day.

The always outspoken Coun. Brian Skakun has raised the issue online and has drawn some criticism for saying there’s little he can do because the decision to limit access was made by staff and that he will “pass the message along to administration” that people are upset.

That, of course, raises the age-old question of who runs the city … council or administration?

“The only power I have is in the collective with Mayor and Council though a majority vote to overturn or create policies on a number of issues,” Skakun wrote on his Facebook page. “Admin set the hours of operation at the new track … That does not mean I am not going to get public feedback and support petitions and such to change the proposed hours of operation.”

The irony, of course, is the city hasn’t posted the hours of operation yet.

Dawn to dusk would be a good start.