Public supports renaming Wheatley Soccer Field to honour local teen

Michael Laliberte (Photo via Reid Funeral Home website)

After getting overwhelming support in favour of the idea, The Wheatley Soccer Field could soon be renamed to commemorate a young local soccer player who battled cancer.

On Monday night, council will vote on whether or not to rename The Wheatley Soccer Field to the Michael Laliberte Memorial Soccer Field.

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent previously received a renaming application.

According to a staff report coming to council on Monday, Laliberte was an active member of the Wheatley Area Minor Soccer Association. He lost his three-year battle with cancer on July 14, 2020 at the age of 16.

In November 2020, council approved a motion to investigate the possible renaming. As per the requirements of the municipal Commemorative Naming Policy, the proposed name change was advertised on the municipal website for public comment using Let’s Talk CK.

“The public comments were overwhelmingly in favour of the renaming with 252 of the 260 respondents indicating they were in support of the renaming of the Wheatley Soccer Field to the Michael Laliberte Memorial Soccer Field,” read the report.

The report also included a letter of support from Laliberte’s mother, Erin Medeiros, who said she was humbled and honoured to see the community rally support the idea.

“The soccer field was his favourite place and being able to play soccer kept him fighting through chemotherapy and pain,” Medeiros wrote. “The loss of Michael is felt every day, but his memory is everywhere and I would feel very blessed to have the soccer field be another place to honour his memory and fighting spirit.”

The cost of the name change would be around $1,000 to replace the sign and would be covered under the existing budget for park signage.