Rugby coach Tom Woods stands on the nearly 50-year-old track surrounding the playing field at Esquimalt High. Woods is part of a committee trying to secure funding for a new all-weather playing field, clubhouse and grandstand on the site. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Esquimalt ‘field of dreams’ needs funding boost

Volunteer group hoped project could receive Township’s amenity funds, but school district owns site

If you build it, they will come. In Esquimalt, they’re already here, they just need their field of dreams.

A dedicated group of volunteers associated with Esquimalt Ribfest have been raising funds for three years, with the goal of providing the community with an all-weather playing field.

Tom Woods, an Esquimalt High alumni and rugby coach, says the Township is the only municipality in Greater Victoria that doesn’t have an all-weather turf for year-round use.

“As soon as it gets rainy, our kids have to leave our community to play sports,” he says, adding Esquimalt has a large contingent of youth who play a variety of sports including rugby and soccer.

Earlier this year, the group launched a petition – accumulating 1,500 signatures – hoping Esquimalt council could allocate some of the McLoughlin Point Amenity Funds to see the Field of Dreams become a reality.

Woods says they recently found out the land isn’t owned by the municipality, but is property of School District 61.

A new committee, including SD61 Trustee Jordan Watters, Mayor Barb Desjardins, Coun. Olga Liberchuk, a representative from the Esquimalt Alumni Association and Woods representing Ribfest, has been formed to figure out how to make the dream come to fruition and find alternative funding sources.

“I’d love to see the kids be able to go to an area that is purpose-built for them,” Woods says. “Sports can be a huge part of a high school and when you’re proud of your teams, it gives you an identity.”

The plan is to resurface the 45-year-old track and install a synthetic, state-of-the-art turf field for soccer, field lacrosse and rugby, as well as a perimeter track, open to the community.

The long-term vision is to see a field house, grandstands and workout facility for Esquimalt High students, who currently lift weights on a converted theatre stage, a compromise on space.

“The entire time the high school has been there, there’s been no workout room,” Woods says.

He’d like to see a joint-use agreement with the district or other local sport organizations, such as the Gorge Soccer Association, who could potentially lease the field after school hours to provide revenue for the Township.

Desjardins says the joint-use idea is an important detail. “Imagine the sports tourism we could attract,” she notes. Her son used the track when he attended Esquimalt High, and she calls its current condition “atrocious.”

“Let’s build those good programs that we have like the rugby academy at Esquimalt High. [It] only has half a chance when it doesn’t have the ability to use its own field,” she adds.

Woods is open to federal, provincial, corporate, or community partners to “step up to the plate” including local First Nations, and ideally would like to see the track built in time for the 2020 North American Indigenous Games the region is currently bidding on.

“We’ve got money in the bank and a community behind it,” he says. “It’s going to take longer than I wanted, but we’ve just got to get creative.”

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

Esquimalt High

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

Just Posted

Victoria woman to sell masks on wheels after garage stand shut down

Mama’s Masks stand accompanied Moss Street Market

Greater Victoria non-profit advocates for the use of psilocybin for terminal patients

North Saanich psychotherapist pushes for alternative treatment

Gathering marks 10 years since nearly 500 asylum-seekers landed off Victoria shore

The 492 people fleeing violence, war crimes and genocide in Sri Lanka were detained for months

One person in custody after hours-long Cook Street standoff with barricaded robbery suspects

Victoria police say 2300-block of Cook Street has reopened to drivers

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Captive fawn seized from Island home

Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 11

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

Most Read