An architectural design for a large indoor sports complex to be built beside Smithers Secondary School was presented at last Tuesday’s Bulkley Valley School District’s operations board meeting.
Stretching 100 feet by 100 feet, with a maximum height of 35 feet, the plan by Vancouver’s KMBR Architects Planners Inc. was described as the “cadillac version” by superintendent Chris van der Mark.
“As we start going through this it may look different, but certainly the layout has a lot of possibilities to it. The size could be that; the sizes may vary. Obviously, that’s going to be part of the budgetary considerations in terms of what you can or can’t include,” said van der Mark at the meeting.
The design includes a little more than half the space being used for a full-size indoor soccer and rugby field surrounded by a 550-ft running track suspended from the ceiling.
The other half would include a court that would be used for basketball and volleyball near the main entrance. At the back of the building would be a beach volleyball court, confined so as to not spread sand in other parts of the complex. The ceiling would be 25 feet high over the courts.
Between the courts would be an area divided into two floors. On the first level a 12-ft-high multi-purpose fitness room is drawn in, with architect Witmar Abele suggesting it be a gym. On the second floor is 13-ft-high space for a cardio or yoga studio. Windows in the studio would look down on the courts on both sides.
Dividing the indoor field from the other half of the complex on the ground level would be the dressing rooms, washrooms, equipment storage, offices, and a concession area. Above those would be a viewing gallery with bleacher seating open to both the field and courts. The running track would be reached from this mezzanine level.
“Especially for the volleyball and basketball, the seating capacity is in the gymnasium next door. Obviously for soccer or rugby we don’t actually have stadia for that type of thing anyways, so it really becomes an off season, an extended season training facility,” explained van der Mark at the meeting.
A price tag has not been attached to the project yet, but a location has been proposed beside the high school. Parking, the bus loop, and driveways would be reconfigured, with 126 parking spots beside Highway 16 and the entrance to the lots accessed by turning off Toronto Street, then Gryphon Way. The area is now treed and has no buildings.
Board chair Les Kearns made it clear that the plans are still at what he described as the visionary stage. Cost estimates need to be figured out and partners from the public and private sectors sought out according to the chairperson.
“I’m pretty sure the school district can’t take the brunt of the financial burden on this; but we’re thinking that it’s a facility that a lot of different groups in the community might want to use, so we’re hoping that we can make some partnerships and make it possible,” said Kearns, adding the need for more recreation space is in high demand.
“We need a second gym because the one we have doesn’t have the room for the number of kids we’ve got at the secondary school. Not only that, but every evening – all weekdays for sure – the gym is being used by community groups as well.
“Right now we have part of our PE (Phys-ed) program that takes place over at the swimming pool, the climbing wall, the ice arena; so it would be nice to be able to have some of our kids to go back if they so choose and take a regular PE program in their own gym,” said Kearns.
The school district pays for students to go to other facilities in town.
“Those are all facilities that need funding to be able to operate as well, so the school board definitely doesn’t expect to just go into those facilities and get them for free,” said Kearns.