by Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on Wednesday October 12 2022
A soccer dome proposed for Nelson will have a broad effect on the breadth of the soccer community, says the city’s mayor, and its support should be reflected in the tax base it could draw from.
John Dooley said the Nelson Soccer Association (NSA) proposal for a new indoor soccer dome facility — which came to the council table last week during the committee-of-the-whole meeting — can be realized, but it should go to a referendum and draw upon a greater taxation region for support for the $3.4-million price tag.
He felt the catchment area for NSA went into the regional district electoral areas of E, F, H and G, which was a large geographical and population area.
“That kind of money spread over that many taxpayers could potentially be done through referendum,” he told NSA’s Tim Wooldridge during the meeting.
Contacting the regional district directors as well on the matter, could be quickest way to success, Dooley added.
“I don’t want to speak for the other taxpayers, but I can tell you right now that for $3.4 million, I would vote for that … because if you were to spread that out in your catchment area, that would not be a big ticket item for the average taxpayer to deliver this product,” he explained.
Wooldridge said he liked it when the city’s mayor characterized the proposal as “doable,” but it was a struggle to find land in Nelson for such a large project.
“We do know this is a large structure in some resident’s eyes, but we do know this is a very passionate sports town, our membership makes up almost one tenth of the population,” he said.
The NSA’s current winter facility doesn’t have the capacity that meets the needs of its membership, Wooldridge said, with 835 youth players and 249 adult players in the NSA in 2022.
“Our membership is keen to play year-round but our facility isn’t capable of matching that,” he said. “We are turning youth away. They are not getting the time on the pitch for the winter season because we are at full capacity. So our vision is a dome.”
The NSA have a letter of support from the Recreation 5 commission and the allocation of regional district staff to conduct a feasibility study to shape that proposal and ensure that it meets the criteria and the expectations of the RDCK’s local government.
“We know that a dome in Nelson is the right fit. It makes sense for the very large membership,” said Wooldridge.
But without a feasibility study the proposal is pure conjecture, noted Coun. Keith Page.
“Is there an appetite on the board … to now spend some money, work with that staff to take the first step in that process to firming up that feasibility study and seeing if this is something that needs to go further?” he asked.
“Is that money you guys are willing to spend and put aside to take this project on?”
Yes, absolutely, Wooldridge replied. At last NSA board meeting it was decided to put some money aside.
“We’ve decided to sit and take the scissors to the budget and liberate some money,” he said.
“It’s becoming more and more like something our association needs to do.”
The dome could be an inflatable structure built on a prepared base — a structure that is manufactured out of Ontario — with a metal membrane.