Sports teams looking to enjoy Nelson’s sports fields are going to have to book and pay for the time they use.
City council passed a new sports field user policy at Monday’s council meeting which introduces new booking procedures and insurance.
“I am really pleased with this policy,” said councillor Deb Kozak, who also sits on the Recreation and Aquatic Commission.
Kozak said this has been a hot topic in the city due to the limited field space.
“We have a limited number of sports fields in the community and they are multi-use. We have soccer players, ball players, field hockey players and a lot of other users needing to use the same space,” she said. “In the past because there hasn’t been a clear policy that says ‘this is what you do,’ we’ve had some conflicts which isn’t very good.”
Parks supervisor Karen MacDonald spoke to the “mayhem” that occurred in the past.
“Fields were overbooked. We couldn’t get in to do maintenance and school groups would just show up,” said MacDonald.
She also said there were problems with Soccer Quest showing up to use the fields for practice.
“Hopefully with this policy there will be no more mayhem,” said MacDonald.
Mayor John Dooley asked if this new policy will help the city collect fees from non-residents.
City manager Kevin Cormack said he believes this is already covered, but added for adult sports teams a bit of follow through would be required in collecting addresses from team members.
“Usually when sports fees pay for field usage it is collected by the regional district and then it comes back to the city,” said Kozak.
“In terms of individuals who are other field user groups like rugby, that would come directly into the city. I’m not sure if there’s always been a clear line of communication for those folks to say who they’re dealing with.”
Kozak said what people really want is clarity.
“They don’t care who they go to. They just want to know where to go to pay their fees,” she said.
There won’t be enforcement of the policy, but Kozak hopes it will help mediate between groups when conflicts do arise.
“We don’t want people disappointed. We want them to be able to come out and play,” she said.
The new policy came into effect on Monday