Flooding of football field leaves FMCSD Saints unable to keep afloat

A Timberlea football field is closed for the season following damage caused by flooding in June.

The Fort McMurray Catholic School Division (FMCSD) Saints are one of the teams who have been displaced following the flooding.

The Timberlea Community Park football field was built in 2012 in an existing dry storm pond.

Douglas Robertshaw, the co-coach of the Saints and teacher at Holy Trinty School, says flooding is an issue they’ve dealt with before.

“The south end by the police station would tend to constantly flood and it wouldn’t really drain,” said co-coach Douglas Robertshaw.

“These were things that we’d bring up to the city and we’d try to bring it to their attention and they said the field was always functioning as intended.”

However, Robertshaw disagrees with the city due to his own experience in Airdrie with proposing a turf football field.

“When I was trying to get proposals into the city, in Airdrie, about why these fields are so good and why they’re beneficial, it’s because they actually do drain,” said Robertshaw.

The team was able to adapt to play around the flooded section on the south end, but there were other maintenance issues with the field.

“Around the 35-yard line on the north end, there’s kind of a divot in the ground, like a one-inch divot that just kinda went across the whole field,” said Robertshaw.

“We would always have to practice 10 yards in front of that and make sure that we don’t go back towards it.”

This June, Fort McMurray experienced about four to five days of consistent rain, leading to the severe flooding of the football field.

After the third day, there was an estimated three feet of water, and pieces of turf were seen floating on top of the water. Robertshaw said he even saw some kids swimming in the flooded field.

“We saw some younger kids, they got their bathing suits and stuff, and they were swimming in the water,” said Robertshaw.

Around June 24th, the field had to be drained by the city due to it not draining on its own, and a piece of plywood was found stuck in the drain.

Following the draining of the field, co-coach Robertshaw walked the field with coach Kevin Garbuio to assess the damage and found most of the damage to their equipment.

The coaches hoped the sea-can that held their equipment would be watertight however, the water had seeped in.

“We opened it up and immediately saw there was mould growing all in the sea-can, and it was all over our practice bags,” said Robertshaw.

The administration advised the coaches to get rid of the equipment as it is unusable due to the mould, and the assessment total of those items came out to $30,000.

The team is responsible for these costs and a fundraiser has been set up by the coaches to help support the team.

The field has also been left unusable and was closed by the municipality while the parks department assesses the damage, and finds repair solutions.

It is not clear when it will reopen but the RMWB expects it to remain closed for the season.

The Saints will be practicing at Father Mercredi High School while the field is shut down.

To hear our full interview with co-coach Douglas Robertshaw, click here. The link to the fundraiser is found here.

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