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Current track and field facilities 'not enough' for the community

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A member of the Kitchener-Waterloo Sports Council is raising concerns about a lack of track and field facilities in Waterloo Region.

Peter Baxter, chair of the facilities committee of the Kitchener-Waterloo Sports Council, said currently there are only three tracks for public use, but they are all on school property, so they can only be utilized when the school is not using them. The council said beyond Resurrection Catholic Secondary School, St. David Catholic Secondary School and Jacob Hespeler Secondary School, user groups don't have anywhere to go.

"It's not enough at all. And in fact…St. David's track is on its life span and it's not really available for the community for rental anymore," said Peter Baxter, chair of the facilities committee of the Kitchener-Waterloo Sports Council.

Baxter said a dedicated facility is needed in order to train athletes and host major events.

"So we need something that's a little bit more dedicated to walkers, runners, high performance athletes, not just the regular person that wants to be in fitness," Baxter said.

"This right now is the best track, but we need more because we have some great athletes but there's not enough facilities," a member of the Laurel Creek Track and Field Club said while training at Resurrection Catholic Secondary School.

According to the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, demand for Resurrection’s field is far higher than what is available and the sharing of the space has created tension. The board said rental fees for the fields fall far shorter than the costs to maintain the tracks, and capital renewal funding is typically prioritized on more critical building components.

“…we do not believe the current conditions to be sustainable, and we may need to curtail public use in the future to ensure our students have access to quality facilities during the school day,” WCDSB said in an email.

There is a running path at Old Centennial Stadium, along with some indoor tracks in the area. But according to Baxter, those aren't up to snuff.

"In Ontario, there's only really three facilities, one in Toronto, one in Ottawa, one in London that can host high performance athletes," he said.

Baxter said athletics are a cheap and simple sport for all kinds of people to get involved in, in the community. He believes building a dedicated track and field facility would also help attract major athletic events along with other cultural opportunities.

"We have Special Olympics that are in our area as well as walkers and school events, national and provincial events that can come into the community. Those are the things that make a vibrant community," Baxter said.

Baxter wants all levels of government to collaborate on a new facility that could host major events. He told CTV News he sent letters to local councillors, along with the Minister of Tourism, Sport, and Culture and Federal MPs.

The Region of Waterloo said municipalities handle recreation.

The City of Kitchener does not currently own or operate track and field facilities, but will consider this feedback when planning in the future.

"We encourage user groups to share this feedback so that it can be considered when community recreational facility needs are reviewed,” the City of Kitchener said in an email.

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