By Trevor Busch
The Taber Recreation Board has thrown its support behind the construction of an asphalt basketball pad for the Heritage Estates subdivision.
At their May 5 regular meeting, the Taber Recreation Board voted unanimously (6-0) to recommend town council consider the request for inclusion in 2017 capital budget deliberations, or sooner if possible. Board representative Darcy Firth was absent from the meeting.
B.J. Fitch, a resident of Heritage Estates, requested consideration of the addition of an outdoor basketball court area to the playground in that residential subdivision. In her written submission to the rec board, Fitch indicated she had canvassed her neighbourhood and collected 89 signatures showing support for the project.
“I would like to suggest adding a cement pad to the playground and installing a basketball hoop or two to keep the older children entertained and active. We are a bit isolated from the rest of town in our area and there is nothing like this close by for the kids to use,” reads the submission.
According to Fitch, many residents are satisfied with the playground, but feel the area would benefit from the addition of an option that would appeal to older youth. There are no basketball courts in the specific area, but there are two on the north side of the community in parks and playground areas, and at several schools.
“What I’m finding is that as my kids are getting older, the playground isn’t adequate for them. Busy kids — they’re playing street hockey a lot in the street — but we want to keep them busy, so we’re hoping that by having a basketball court there, they can use it for taking shots, playing basketball, they could move their street hockey game there, rather than the middle of the cul-de-sac. I think it would get a lot of use.”
There are currently no funds allocated in the 2016 budget for the construction of a basketball court. Development of an asphalt basketball court has an estimated cost of $13,766.
“It’s certainly a good area for a basketball court,” said board representative Joel Mills. “It’s central to that neighbourhood, and she’s right, everything kind of backs onto that area. For the younger kids, a lot of eyes can be on that area at the same time.”
According to administration, resources would be required for construction of such a project, including building the base, adding a concrete or asphalt pad, and the addition of basketball hoops.
“Another thing that the kids had asked for was a streetlight over it, so in the wintertime they can play later,” said Fitch. “If that’s something that’s possible, that’s something that was requested as well.”
Fitch related no fundraising has yet been conducted, and no community groups have been approached for any required funds to complete the project.
“We have not approached any groups for it. I know parents said they’re definitely ready to help out labour-wise, but funding-wise we have not approached any groups as of yet.”
Coun. Randy Sparks gave a hearty endorsement of the need for the project to move forward.
“It does need to be done. I believe the town owes the residents of that side of the town a place for the kids to be able to play some basketball and some street hockey. You’re only requesting just under $14,000, which is money well spent to keep the kids off the street and give them a place to play. I believe this is an ask that is well needed, and should have been done before now. To me, it’s a small price to pay to have something over there for these kids to use, from little ones right up to older ones.”