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Saanich school not giving up on six-year mission to redo sports fields

Without artificial turf, the fields are ‘unfit’ for use by student athletes, say school staff
A look at the Spectrum Schools sports fields. For most of the season poor drainage makes the fields unusable. (Mark Page/News Staff)

The Spectrum Community School still needs a viable sports field for its students.

“It’s just unfit,” Spectrum athletic director Dominic Butcher told the Saanich News. “It’s underwater and saturated for great chunks of the year.”

The current pitch is laced with thin drainage ditches that don’t seem to do their job well, but do become a hazard for athletes.

Butcher said the little strips are “like concrete,” and that they were responsible for some injuries back when football was played on the fields.

Much of the year the field just becomes a mud-soaked mess.

“We often joke about how we should have a hunting academy because there’s so many geese,” Butcher said.

Now, after six years of work spearheaded by Butcher, the school has landed on a new design and secured what they hope is over $1 million of in-kind contributions for a $2.7 million artificial turf project.

Fundraising efforts are underway to find the rest of the money for the project.

The project has gone through several different incarnations over the years. Current designs include a clubhouse building and lights, and would occupy a portion of the fields between Spectrum and St. Joseph’s Elementary, closest to Burnside Road.

As well as Spectrum school students, the facilities would become a home for several community sports groups, such as Victoria Spartans Football, Westcastle International Academy’s soccer team, and the Victoria Sport & Social Club.

For the Spartans, a lack of adequate Greater Victoria sports facilities have meant a constant search for a permanent home for a program that has almost 100 youth athletes.

“We’d like to have a permanent year round field that we know is ours, that we can set up our clubhouse, and our gear and that families and everybody knows, that’s where we’re playing,” said Allen Lavoie, Spartans president.

“We’re doing everything we can to tap into resources to raise funds.”

The facility would also be open for use by Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations. Butcher said this is part of the school’s commitment to deliver on two of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action regarding the support of Indigenous athletes and Indigenous health through physical activity.

Butcher, Lavoie and others are also trying to get the District of Saanich involved as well, showing up with a group of students, parents and other community members to speak at the Jan. 22 council meeting.

The council passed a motion at the Jan. 22 meeting to explore what a partnership could look like, and to start the conversation, but made no firm commitment whether or how the district would support the project.

READ MORE: New turf field coming to future Langford school

About the Author: Mark Page

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