This is in response to an article on the Ottawa Lions Track & Field Club that appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on December 7, 2013.
We are proud to have been a participant in a process that eventually saw the City of Ottawa acquire a $2.3 million improvement to the Terry Fox Track & Field facility at an eventual cost to the City of approximately a sixth of the total price. This was possible thanks to the federal Recreation Infrastructure Canada (RInC) grant which provided two thirds of the funding from the federal and provincial governments. We commend the City’s vision in seeing this through. It is an excellent example of what can be done for the citizens of Ottawa when the federal and provincial governments, the City, and a user group – the Ottawa Lions membership – come together in partnership to improve an important City asset.
This project was a necessity for the future of the facility, as the track had deteriorated to an unsafe state, even with annual patchwork repairs. The City’s Parks and Recreation and Engineering Departments wisely chose a design and materials that will maximize the usage and the durability of the Terry Fox track. The restoration of the track was conducted under contracts awarded by the City and supervised by its project manager and construction engineers. The Club fully supported the decision and the process.
The project represents a significant financial commitment for the Ottawa Lions. Our members, who ultimately pay the bills, are to be commended for the support they have shown for this project, for their sport and for the Ottawa community. It is difficult to find another example in Ottawa – or elsewhere for that matter – where a not-for-profit sport club has committed to paying almost $400,000 to the rehabilitation of a facility which it does not own, does not control and for which the general public has full access. The Ottawa Lions made this commitment to preserve our sport, both for our members and for the community at large.
Over the life of the new track, more than 100,000 Ottawa area school children, and many others, will use Terry Fox for a wide variety of events, including the series of elementary and high school track and field meets held each spring. In 2013 alone, more than 8,400 students, both elementary and high school, participated in track and field events at Terry Fox. The upgraded facility has also enabled Ottawa to host many prestigious events including two Panamerican Combined Events Cups, two Canadian Youth Championships and multiple provincial championships. In addition to providing Ottawa with the profile it deserves, these events bring in substantial tourist dollars to the city.
It is also important to note that while the Ottawa Lions is a significant contributor to the upgrade of the Terry Fox Athletic Facility, it continues to pay an annual rental to the City to be able to run its many programs and for seasonal use by its members, which is offset only in part by a sustaining grant from the City. This rent is determined on a basis comparable to what other sports clubs pay the City for enjoyment of City facilities.
As you may know our programs service more than 1,200 athletes of varying abilities from youth athletes (ages 7-10), who form the majority of our membership, through to our high performance members and even up to our world champion masters athletes. Our youngest member is seven years old, our oldest is eighty. The large majority of our adult coaches are highly qualified and volunteer their time. We offer integrated programs for both our able-bodied athletes and athletes with a disability. Did you know five members of our club represented Canada at the 2012 Olympics with a further 10 participating in the Paralympic Games, including double medalist Jason Dunkerley with his guide runner Joshua Karanja? In 2013, Ottawa Lions athletes competed in the World Championships, the World Youth Championships, the World University Games, the World Masters Games, the World Masters Championships and the Jeux de la Francophonie as well as all Canadian championships.
Let us recognize the new and improved Terry Fox Track & Field facility for what it is: a positive step forward for sport and recreation in the City, available to every citizen of Ottawa.
Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club