The Peninsula Football Club wants the three Saanich Peninsula municipalities to pitch in a total of $1.3 million towards two artificial fields at Blue Heron Park. (Wolf Depner/News Staff) The Peninsula Football Club wants the three Saanich Peninsula municipalities to pitch in a total of $1.3 million towards two artificial fields at Blue Heron Park. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Artificial turf field proposal for North Saanich to receive additional scrutiny

Officials from Central Saanich, North Saanich and Sidney to learn more next month

The three Saanich Peninsula communities are just beginning to assess the pitch of a local soccer club to build two artificial fields in North Saanich.

“The request from the Peninsula Football Club will be considered at the budget committee meeting on March 6,” said Rebecca Penz, communications manager for the District of North Saanich, after North Saanich council formally received the club’s proposal.

The club wants the three municipalities on the Saanich Peninsula to pitch in $1.3 million towards two artificial turf fields at Blue Heron Park in North Saanich. This figure appears in a report that the club had sent to North Saanich, Sidney and Central Saanich councils. The report said that the club would commit between $200,000 and $300,000 of in-kind funding towards the project, which the club would like to see get underway this spring.

RELATED: Soccer club hopes to score funds for turf fields in North Saanich

The proposal calls on North Saanich to contribute $700,000 while the club is asking for $300,000 each from Sidney and Central Saanich.

That community also received the report Monday night and councillors subsequently passed a motion inviting the club to present its proposal at an upcoming meeting. “That date hasn’t been set yet as the request was made last night,” said Britt Burnham, manager of community services.

“I really don’t have too much to comment on at this point,” said Randy Humble, Sidney’s chief administrative officer. “The Town has recently received the soccer association’s proposal, but it has not yet been considered by [council].” Humble said he and Mayor McNeil-Smith are scheduled to meet a club representative to discuss aspects of the submission. “Once we have this meeting, the submission will then be brought forward to council,” he said.

When asked whether the group’s pitch was too late after Sidney has wrapped up its budget discussions, Humble deferred.

“As noted, we have arranged a meeting with [the club] to discuss and receive additional clarity regarding their request,” he said. “Therefore, until we do that and their proposal proceeds to [council], it would be premature for me to comment further.”

Central Saanich and North Saanich have not yet finalized their respective budgets.

The report said the two current grass fields at the park are subject to “frequent, unexpected closures” that leave the local soccer community unable to host any games or practices. “In the past, Blue Heron and the clubs’ other fields have at times been closed for multiple weeks, sometimes even longer,” it reads. “This is a huge disadvantage to our soccer club, a hindrance to our [players’ development] and distraction to our players and parents alike.”

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