The local soccer and lacrosse associations based in Saanich’s Braefoot Park are supporting the district’s recent move to take over management of the clubhouse building – resulting in the Braefoot Community Association (BCA) needing to find a new space.
On Dec. 16, Saanich announced that it would not be renewing the BCA’s lease for the building on McKenzie Avenue and would instead be taking over the building in the new year.
According to Sean Nacey, chair of the BCA board, the association was surprised to hear their 34-year lease would be terminated with what they felt was short notice. On Dec. 22, the board announced a letter-writing campaign in hopes of reversing the decision.
However, not everyone was upset about the announcement. The Lakehill Soccer Association and the Saanich Lacrosse Association – which operate out of Braefoot Park and use the building – have written to council expressing their support for the decision. The letters were sent before Christmas and were not made public.
The sports associations are the primary park-users and both wrote to council indicating support for Saanich’s choice to take over the building, explained Andy Stuart, president of Saanich Lacrosse.
“We believe Saanich is best positioned to manage the park,” he said.
Jeremy Mannall-Fretwell, president of Lakehill Soccer, agreed and noted that he hopes to see many of the ongoing maintenance issues – including faulty plumbing and damaged door locks – be resolved when Saanich takes over.
According to Stuart and Mannall-Fretwell, Saanich has confirmed that both associations will continue to have access to the park facilities they currently rent.
The decision to take over the Braefoot Park building came out of a 2018 council directive calling for staff to review the district’s land-holdings, said Mayor Fred Haynes. Staff determined that the Braefoot Park building would be better utilized by Saanich because municipal hall is at capacity and with COVID-19, there is a need for more space to permit social distancing, he explained.
Haynes emphasized while he personally suports the BCA, the district needs the space and has offered the community group a month-to-month lease until April 30.