Masich Place drop-ins get access from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Report

The Masich Place Redevelopment Project is set for completion in 2018. The $4.4 Million project includes one of the first outdoor synthetic fields in northern B.C. (seen being installed in this City of Prince George file photo from August, 2017).

Amid a strong community push to have the refurbished Masich Place Stadium open to walkers and runners from dawn to dusk, city staff is recommending it only be open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. seven days a week.

The hours are outlined in a report that council will consider Monday night. Last week when the city announced the $4.8 million project was nearing completion, the word from City Hall was staff is “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.”

News that the city plans to curtail drop-in traffic has angered pretty much everyone in the community outside City Hall. An online petition calling for the city to keep the facility open to drop-in users from dawn to dusk has garnered 1,521 signatures and a Facebook page ‘PG Citizens for Masich Place’ has also sprung up.

Coun. Brian Skakun has says the limited hours are not acceptable.

“When we deal with this Monday night at council, I will put some type of motion on the floor to direct administration to expand the public hours of access,” he posted on his Facebook page. “My hope is to go back to the original hours of operation and see how that works. Might seem simple but not be easy. In order for that to happen, I need the support of the majority of council.”

Dave Dyer, the city’s general manager of engineering and public works says, in his report to council, that the plan to curtail drop-in access is on par with similar facilities.

“Research on similar stadiums in Coquitlam, Kamloops, Lethbridge, and Vernon identified a variety of approaches to staffing, contracted services, maintenance, scheduling, and public access,” he wrote in the report. “Stadium operational hours vary by community and stadiums that have limited staffing or surveillance from adjacent land uses are typically locked during non-booked hours with no public access aside from a scheduled public walking program.”

He said that with the improvements scheduled usage by user groups is expected to immediately increase by more than 60 per cent.

That will entail having at least one staff person at the site while the facility is open, which will be paid out of the city budget.

“To accommodate the increased use of Masich Place Stadium and PGSS Sports Fields, expanded staffing levels will be required,” Dyer wrote. “Parks will be preparing a budget enhancement for consideration as part of deliberations for the city’s 2019-2023 Financial Plan.”

The facility is expected to be open to the public August 7.