Sportsmanlike conduct, Island-style

When it comes to sports, the ball is in the West Shore's court

Find a seat at Bear Mountain Stadium this summer and take in a game showcasing the talents of players like girls Highlanders player Janelle Smith.

Find a seat at Bear Mountain Stadium this summer and take in a game showcasing the talents of players like girls Highlanders player Janelle Smith.

When it comes to sports, the ball is in the West Shore’s court.

Make that the hockey puck, the football, and the mixed martial arts gloves as well, all of which ricochet off the end boards, get spiked into the turf and strain ring ropes in the region of choice for many of the sports franchises and sports fans of Greater Victoria.

“(All) that has happened in the last three years, which has been incredible for any community,” said Langford parks planner Mike Leskiw of the new sports infrastructure in the West Shore.

In that time, the municipality has constructed two full-sized artificial fields and a stadium at City Centre Park. To open this year, the new Sportsplex introduces a National Hockey League (NHL) standardized ice surface and 10-pin bowling to the mix.

The two new fields, one made to National Football (NFL) standards and the other to Canadian Football League (CFL) standards, also bear the mark of FIFA and World Rugby Board standards. The fields currently stand as one-of-a-kind facilities on Vancouver Island and tell the story of how the West Shore is giving the rest of Greater Victoria a run for sporting dollars.

“(Langford) mayor and council believe in health and recreation and promote it heavily by building facilities that attract sports activities,” said Drew Finerty, general manager of the Victoria Highlander’s soccer team. “There are a lot of young families in the West Shore and the best thing for family is sports. If you live here, everything is close and you can play almost any sport.”

In addition to playing, watching their favourite sports teams is a big West Shore draw and Bear Mountain Stadium is expected to grow to a 3000-seat facility in 2012 — bringing in further spending and economic help to the West Shore.

Meanwhile attendance at Victoria Highlander’s soccer, Rebels football, Shamrocks Lacrosse, Grizzlies hockey and the Armageddon Fighting Championship’s MMA events continue to remain stable and lead the charge to continued growth in the West Shore’s sports segment.

“We believe it is a younger community, a growing community and we are very much looking forward to growing with it,” said AFC president Darren Owen. “The infrastructure is in place which makes it an easier choice to bring my organization, and the thousands of fans who attend every event and the dollars they spend, here.”

Owen believes sport brings significant traffic and dollars from outlying areas. His own estimates peg more than 80 per cent of his ticket-purchasing clientele commuting from outside the West Shore. He sells more than 500 tickets in Island towns such as Nanaimo and Campbell River and several hundred more in Greater Vancouver.

Their home in Bear Mountain Arena, run by West Shore Parks and Recreations Society, also hosts a plethora of sports teams. The site is so well used even the fitness centre was so busy staff were forced to turn people away before a recent renovation effectively doubled its capacity.

WSPRS administrator Linda Barnes said more than 150,000 participants registered in paid programs last year with thousands more served by soccer, minor hockey, figure skating, curling and BMX. There were more than 250,000 participants in their drop-in programs alone.

With the infrastructure in place for professional teams, Island youth are able to get in on the action early.

“(The students) are looking for something to connect to … It connects them to school and the community,” said Kevin Harrington, Belmont secondary school PE teacher and football coach. “We have some amazing kids, that have come through here that wouldn’t have graduated for sure if it wasn’t for sports.”

The Belmont grad who still lives in the area, didn’t have infrastructure like this when he grew up and believes that the importance of sports transcends dollars and cents.

“The facilities are the best in (the region) Victoria by far,” Harrington said. “When you are talking about community in (Greater) Victoria — the growth of that recreation component has been by far best looked after on the West Shore.”

Find your teams online:

Rebels Football | www.westshorerebels.com

Highlanders FC

www.victoriahighlandersfc.com

Shamrocks Lacrosse

www.victoriashamrocks.com

Grizzlies Hockey | www.victoriagrizzlies.com

Armageddon Fighting Championships

http://armageddonfc.com/

WestShore Parks & Recreation

www.westshorerecreation.ca

City Centre Park, Eagle Ridge Arena

www.eagleridgecentre.comwww.cityoflangford.ca

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kelly Black, executive director of Point Ellice House Museum and Gardens, is working on years of deferred maintenance around the house and property. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Point Ellice House in Victoria looks to patch up during pandemic

Woodpeckers, leaks and rot keep museum head busy

A recently finished $4.3-million taxiway extension at the Victoria International Airport (not pictured) is unusable because of a blind spot. (Black Press Media file photo)
Blind spot leaves Victoria airport’s new $4.3-million taxiway extension unusable

Solution has been put on hold by COVID-19 pandemic, says airport authority

Walkers ascend Mount Douglas Park on Sunday, Feb. 7. Visits to Saanich Parks are up 46 per cent compared to pre-pandemic statistics this time last year. (Darrell Wick Photo)
Oak Bay, Saanich parks peak in popularity during pandemic

Oak Bay spent an extra $5,000 on park toilet paper in 2020

This male Dungeness can safely be harvested after passing muster. An official with Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it is not clear how well locals on the Saanich Peninsula are complying with crabbing regulations, but her comments suggest that any problems might be of a minor nature. (Department of Fisheries and Oceans/Submitted)
Sidney and Sooke record 57 crabbing violations in 2020

While recreational crab fishery has ‘compliance issues,’ no evidence of ‘large scale poaching’

Police seek information after a pedestrian was hit in a crosswalk at the intersection of Goldstream Avenue and Veterans Memorial Parkway on March 3.(Google Maps)
Witnesses sought in Langford pedestrian hit and run

Suspect is older man driving four-door, gold sedan

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Initiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

The first of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft—the Dash-8—becomes operational. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance air craft is capable of staying aloft for eight to 10 hours for a variety of missions up and down the B.C. coast. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
New plane will double DFO’s surveillance capacity in B.C.

The Dash-8 will fly out of Campbell River for enforcement, conservation missions

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Most Read