At the last Council meeting, staff from Crestwood Secondary School presented a request to partner with the Kawartha Pine Ridge DSB in the installation of an artificial turf field at the school.
The primary users would be students in the Edge Program, which is a popular athletic program at the school designed to inspire student athletes to achieve academic and athletic excellence. The new field would allow the program to expand and provide a new athletic field within the township whose residents would have priority access on evenings and weekends.
The Edge program currently has 122 enrolled out of a high school population of 691 students, and space is restricting the program’s expansion. The Crestwood representatives outlined the details of their facilities enhancement project, which consists of four phases, beginning with some building enhancements within the school to support the program. The installation of the artificial turf field represents the second phase, which would be followed by the installation of a dome to cover the field and finally the installation of an accessible baseball diamond.
Since the Millbrook South Cavan Intermediate students relocated to Crestwood, Cavan-Monaghan student representation in the student body has climbed. There are currently 368 Cavan-Monaghan students attending Crestwood, representing 41.1% of the school population, with a forecast indicating that they will represent 54.2% by 2031.
The school board has an existing partnership with the City of Peterborough which according to the presenters, contributed $1.7 million to the construction of a similar facility at TASS eight years ago. The city manages this facility, pays the utility costs and contributes $25K per year towards its maintenance. It also shares rental revenue equally with the school board. The Crestwood proposal is quite different.
The Edge Expansion Project proposal seeks a one-time contribution of $500K towards the $2.5 million projected cost of the field improvements with no ongoing financial or administrative support to maintain the facility or manage field rentals. Township residents would have advance booking privileges when the field is not being used by the school, and the township would receive rental revenues derived from any off-hours rentals and would be acknowledged in facility signage.
The Ministry of Education allows a variety of specialized high school programs, or “pathways” in eleven sectors, including arts and culture, business, energy, the environment, and sports, among others. Kenner has the International Baccalaureate program, TASS has specialist programs in arts and culture, hospitality and tourism and the environment, while students at PCVS can enroll in the Youth Leadership in Sustainability program. This investment in athletic facilities would enhance Crestwood’s existing athletic programs which include not only elite athletes but all students looking to improve their health and wellness.
The artificial turf project is appealing to students, staff and many sports clubs in the area. Not having to own, maintain or manage the facility while having priority access for residents is also attractive for the township.
The timing of the request presents some challenges. In some ways this proposal feels both a bit early and a bit late. Tabling a capital request of half a million dollars at the same meeting where Council is reviewing the second draft of the budget seems a bit late. At face value, the proposal represents a 5% tax levy increase. On the other hand, the project appears to be in a preliminary stage of development. The presentation included no background information supporting the cost projections or forecasts of the potential mitigating revenue the township might derive from the rental of the facility during off-hours. The proposal appeared to seek not just a commitment but actual payment of the funds, possibly spread over two fiscal years – 2022 and 2023.
The TASS project was funded in part through donations from the Dairy Farmers of Canada, user groups and a Trillium grant. The Crestwood delegation indicated that donation and grant opportunities will also be explored to secure the remaining financing for the Crestwood project, but information on those funding sources is not yet available.
Council will review staff suggestions on how to secure funding for this project without relying on a tax levy increase to meet this request at the final budget meeting scheduled for February 22nd. KG