Bonnyville Football Club is working hard to keep the lights on at Ray Scott Athletic Park

The Bonnyville Amateur Football Association has requested assistance in maintaining a heavily used facility in the town of Bonnyville.

BONNYVILLE- The Bonnyville Amateur Football Association (BAFA) has asked for help keeping the lights on at Ray Scott Athletic Park and Walsh Field.

“In 2017, Walsh Field was transformed into what it is today,” BAFA President Kevin Sartain said during a delegation to Bonnyville MD on Sept. 28. He explained that the facility is one of only two facilities in all of Alberta where a Level 3 track event could be hosted and its pitch is similar to pitches used by the National Football League (NFL).

In recent years, operational costs have started to exceed BAFA. Costs such as insurance and electricity for outdoor lighting continue to rise, for example.

Sartain explained that there are about 120 young people who participate in the program from mid-August to mid-November with the football association, and spring programs are also offered.

An eight-lane running track is also part of the grounds, and many other organizations use the facility throughout the year.

Although the facility met many high standards, the project remained unfinished. BAFA says he would like to see the project completed in the future, with the help of local municipalities, which includes the creation of changing rooms and more athletics equipment.

But, the current request of the non-profit association concerns the maintenance of the existing park.

It is estimated that at least 20,000 people use the park each year, although Sartain believes that number could be closer to 30,000. All maintenance of the park is carried out by volunteers from BAFA and the Athletics Club of Yellowjackets.

Sartain said BAFA is not looking for help to run the association, but during the eight months of the year when football does not use the ground, the non-profit organization still has to pay for maintenance , insurance and electricity; therefore, they are looking for financial support to help maintain the park.

Sartain also noted an increase in vandalism. “This one really gets to me,” he said.

In one case, someone went into the field a few weeks ago and blew a hole in it. Volunteers, including Sartain, repaired the hole, to make it happen again.

In the southeast corner of the field, someone set it on fire. Vandalism also occurred on the balustrade of the bleachers.

“I don’t care if I have to spend 10 hours a week… to maintain it (with others),” Sartain said, but the association would really like a little more help. He noted that a request is also being sent to the town of Bonnyville.

A request for $12,000 per year is made to both the MD of Bonnyville and the Town of Bonnyville specifically for park maintenance.

Expenses right now are $20,000, Sartain said, but that doesn’t include any major maintenance projects.

Sartain noted that school divisions have pledged to contribute $1,500 each.

During discussions, the board expressed concern that school divisions are often not the ones to support projects such as parks and playgrounds that exist on school property, but rather that municipalities step in to fund the projects.

Com. Darcy Skarsen said he would support the request and raise the issue in future budget discussions. He noted that many other parks and recreational facilities — like baseball diamonds — are maintained by municipalities, and the soccer field is an exception to that rule.

“You just want what everyone gets,” Skarsen said, agreeing with the request.

“We’re doing our best to keep it running,” Sartain said.

A motion to accept the delegation as information was passed, as well as directing the administration to report additional information regarding BAFA’s funding request at a future board meeting.