Soccer field

Dilkens and Gill pledge to create grass football pitch in East Windsor if re-elected

A Windsor mayoral candidate and a Ward 7 candidate promise to deliver a new outdoor turf pitch to McHugh Park.

Mayor Drew Dilkens, running for re-election on October 24, made his pledge Friday morning alongside Ward 7 Councilor Jeewan Gill, Vancho Cirovski and Joe Barile.

In line with the longer term goals of the City of Windsor Parks Master Plan, Gill and Dilkens are supporting the advancement of Council’s next term with the planning, design and start of construction of a new grass pitch.

Dilkens says soccer and football are among the growing list of sporting activities that have seen increased interest and participation, thanks to a variety of youth and adult leagues, which have placed demands on leisure facilities municipalities in recent years.

He says the Essex County Soccer Association and other sports user groups are now looking for a partner to join them in expanding access.

“Of course an artificial turf pitch would extend the playing season and also increase our ability to attract competitive tournaments,” he continued. “Jeewan and I are here today to collectively raise our hands and announce that we want the City of Windsor to be that partner and expand the facilities right here at McHugh Field as part of a partnership approach.”

Photo by Rob Hindi

Dilkens says that by investing in these types of facilities, they can further cement the city’s reputation as a premier destination for amateur sport and the host of regional, provincial and national competitive tournaments.

He says that this proposal is different from the one that was put to the board last October, but that they have to do it in the next term.

“We’ve been talking about it for so long, and that’s what it’s about today, is to commit to it. We know there are thousands and thousands of families in the town of Windsor whose kids play football, we want this done for them, we want this done so that we can have a wonderful team here, a national team and be part of this circuit which brings a lot more excitement to our community as well as the economic benefits of sport tourism.

Dilkens says they would start with one field and potentially consider more in the future, at a cost of around $3 million.

Gill says he’s heard from residents in his neighborhood and community stakeholders that a new grass pitch is needed to meet Windsor’s sporting and recreational needs.

“I am committed to finding and building a partnership approach with local or regional sports associations to offer this area as a win-win for multiple partners. Ward 7 deserves this investment and I will work hard to achieve this,” said he added.

Cirovski, owner of Windsor TFC, is also looking to bring a Canadian Premier League team to the city.

He says they are talking about a three to four year project, and that former CPL commissioner David Clanachan has indicated that his target date is 2024.

“Now it can be a challenge, I don’t know, it depends on the efforts we put in and the resources we put in. But it’s a public-private partnership, it’s a project which is going to be about making it affordable and not being super fantastic about what we can accomplish,” Cirovski said.

Dilkens says the commitment he and Gill have made is that they will begin the process in 2023 if re-elected, and if they haven’t fully built it within that year, it will be done by 2024.

He added that although it is not in the capital budget at the moment, they are committed on the parks and recreation side to prioritize the project.

As part of this vision, Gill and Dilkens say they will lead efforts to find community partners to participate in the long-term operation and share start-up costs associated with this new municipal infrastructure.

Dilkens is running against current Ward 4 Councilor Chris Holt, Benjamin Danyluk, Matthew Giancola, Aaron Day, Ernie Lamont and Louis Vaupotic in the mayoral race.

– with files from Rob Hindi of the AM800