The Langdon Community Campus quad baseball diamond project received a huge boost July 23, when Rocky View County (RVC) council surpassed a funding request and approved $2.25 million – covering the construction costs of all four diamonds.
“It felt like the hard work had paid off when we received the [funding],” said Chrissy Craig, the project’s fundraising co-ordinator. “We’ve been working really hard, but it’s been very hard to get funding.”
Prior to the approval, Craig said, the North Bow Community Facility Board (NBCFB) had managed to raise $550,000 to put towards the construction of playable baseball surfaces. Those dollars came primarily from developers, but fundraising had been slow-going.
“It’s infrastructure, and not a lot of people want to put their name on gravel and pipes and that sort of stuff – they want to put their name on buildings,” she said.
With the $550,000 in hand, NBCFB planned to begin construction on one of the four proposed diamonds. According to an administration report in the agenda for council’s July 23 regular meeting, County staff met with the board and recommended at least two diamonds be constructed, prompting administration to approach council with a funding request for an equivalent $550,000 for the second field.
According to Community Services Co-ordinator Althea Panaguiton, constructing at least two of the diamonds would allow for regular tournaments to be hosted in Langdon until the final two fields could be constructed.
However, area councillor Deputy Reeve Al Schule proposed extra money be devoted to the project, and made a motion to approve the $2.25 million, taking the funding from the General Regional District Reserve.
“I really think we should build the whole four ball diamonds,” he said. “I’ve been telling the community how great RVC and this council is…so I’d like you guys to prove me correct.”
The request was granted 8-1, with Coun. Samanntha Wright opposed.
“I’m wholeheartedly in favour of the $550,000 to get you guys underway…giving all the money, at this point in time, I don’t think I could justify it to the ratepayers in my division,” she said.
Although ultimately voting in favour of the funding, Reeve Greg Boehlke also expressed reservations.
“It’s not that I wouldn’t love to support recreation in every corner,” he said. “I think it’s a worthwhile project and I’ve supported this project right through, [but] we’ve done big projects before in phases, and there’s no reason why we can’t do this one in phases. To go from $550,000 up to $2.2 million is a big jump, for me, with no real preparation.”
Other councillors were more comfortable with the motion.
“We’re investing in our youth, getting them outside playing,” Coun. Daniel Henn said. “I think that’s a solid long-term investment. And it enhances the community of Langdon.”
Craig said the funding was a huge boon to the project, and NBCFB will now build the four regulation-size diamonds.
“These are playable surfaces, so it’s only going to be grass, shale and backstops,” Craig said. “We still have to fundraise for the fences and that sort of stuff.”
Future plans also include spectator seating and a clubhouse with washrooms and a space for a concession, but Craig said those components have not been fully designed.
The funding from RVC will also allow NBCFB to seek a matching grant from the provincial government, which Craig was confident would come through.
“At the end of the day, we’ll have just over $4 million, which will give us almost the whole project,” she said.
In the coming weeks, Craig said, NBCFB will meet with the County for approval of development permits. She said once the permits are approved, construction will begin in mid-September. She added the hope is to finish construction before winter, so the fields can be used come spring 2020.
“This project is extremely important for Langdon, because the baseball community is our biggest recreation – not only with our little guys from the ages of three to 16, we also have adults, which is a full-time league,” Craig said. “If you come out to Langdon, there is baseball played every moment of the day and it is the number one sport. This project will help keep our kids in Langdon and help keep them active.”