Drive past Braefoot Park on any day, especially during the summer, and you are bound to see people of all ages playing sports or participating in some other programs offered by the Braefoot Community Association.
“It’s really becoming more and more of a social hub,” said Lee Richardson, executive director of the association.
Braefoot Park with its turf field and clubhouse is not just the physical hub of the association, but also manifests its larger mission: to help youth participate in activities that promote positive lifestyles which contribute to healthy communities. This mission started in the mid-1980s when the association worked with the District of Saanich, trade unions and Lakehill Soccer and Saanich Lacrosse to create the current building.
Other infrastructure projects that the association has supported over the years include various improvements to the building, the rebuilding of the lacrosse box at the park, and Saanich’s effort to build a new playground at Braefoot Park. It has filled this infrastructure with life by operating camps and programs that include soccer, basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, martial arts and dance.
It also supports youth beyond the playing field through a bursary fund that supports them in their pursuit of post-secondary education. According to the association, it has handed out over $270,000 since 1989. And regardless of how they might have benefited from the activities of the association, many have remained involved with it.
“We love seeing people come through the program, then come back and volunteer on our board,” said Lee. “We have quite a few board members now that have been the beneficiaries of the park, and now they are coming back to give back to programs here.”
In this way, the association has created a virtuous circle that encompasses large sections of Saanich and beyond. Some 30,000 people of all ages and all background use the park annually, a figure likely to grow in the future, as the site has become the home of Saanich Sunday Farmers’ Market, returning to the park later this year after its inaugural season.
This ongoing evolution means continuing growth for the association and its leadership. Future plans include replacing the existing building with a new one to ensure adequate space. It might be a while until that happens, said Lee.
“But we are trying to save money to do that in the future,” he said.