Proposed Kelowna field house is for much more than rugby

An artist's rendition of the proposed Rutland field house.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/City of Kelowna

KELOWNA - An ambitious $4.6 million fundraising campaign will likely be launched next year to build a field house in Rutland.

While the effort is being spearheaded by a group called the Central Okanagan Rugby Enthusiasts, it’s just one of eight organizations behind the effort.

“Even though we are a rugby organization, it’s not just a facility for rugby,” Central Okanagan Rugby Enthusiasts president Doug Manning told “It’s a facility that has three functions. It has a function of providing a multi-sports centre for kids under the age of 13, a place where families can get their kids assessed for 15 fundamental movement skills and sports for life. Pacific Sport Okanagan will look after that. It’s also a home for adult team sports, not just rugby and, thirdly, it sees itself as a tournament centre.”

The group approached the city in 2016 with a proposal for a rugby field house for the Glenmore Recreation Park but delays in construction of that park, combined with the city saying it needed to be more than just a rugby building, changed the focus of the project.

Since then, Central Okanagan Rugby Enthusiasts has worked with the other organizations to put its proposal together, including a fundraising plan that won’t be launched until an agreement is signed with the city.

Kelowna city council will review the proposal at its Monday, Dec. 10 meeting. If approved, staff will be directed to negotiate with Central Okanagan Rugby Enthusiasts. Because he is away at times during the winter, Manning doesn’t expect that process to be complete until the spring.

“We did not want to proceed with asking anyone for money for something that isn’t real until we have a memorandum of understanding with the city,” Manning said. “We will require a lot of fundraising.”

The groups will be looking for grants and donations, and plan to hold fundraising gala dinners.

The goal, according to report to council by Sandra Kochan, the city’s partnership manager, is to have the $4.6 million, two-storey, 9,900 square foot building completed in 2021.

If it goes ahead, the building will replace an aging and little used change room at the Rutland Recreation Park, fully funded through fundraising.

The ground floor is proposed to have four large change rooms, referee and medical rooms, storage areas, public washrooms and an elevator. The second floor design calls for meeting space, a viewing deck, kitchen and office.

Manning said Pacific Sport Okanagan will manage the facility and went on to explain that the new facility will aid in promoting the multi-sport philosophy. That promotes the idea that children under the age of 13 are better off playing a number of different sports for fun. Only in their teen years should the focus shift to specialization and competition, for those who want to pursue sports seriously, he said.

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