Local athletic association calling for more turf fields

Demand for field time a premium in the West Shore

Kids from the Victoria Youth Field Lacrosse hit the field for the association’s Back to the Field Canada 150 celebration recently. Association president Larissa Coates hopes to get more turf fields installed around the West Shore. (Contributed photo)

An athletics association is calling for more turf fields to be installed on the West Shore to keep up with the increasing number of youth joining local sports teams.

Larissa Coates, president of Victoria Youth Field Lacrosse, based out of the West Shore, said field time at any of the four fields (three grass and one synthetic) at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre, and school fields has been increasingly hard to come by in recent years.

“It has become apparent over the last few years that access to adequate field time is becoming harder to obtain,” Coates said in a letter to Colwood council recently.

“Westshore Parks and Recreation oversees the allocation of the fields and has the difficult task of trying to meet the conflicting requests for field time by associations using their facilities.”

Currently, the association practices three times a week at the Westshore Velodrome in Colwood, as well as once a week at Goudy Field from September to February. However, the field at the Velodrome is not regulation field lacrosse size, which is suitable for younger divisions, but not older ones such as the U15 to U18.

The solution? Installing more multi-use all weather turf fields.

“I think the focus is on keep youth engaged in the athletics that they enjoy. For us, the entire focus is all about the kids,” said Coates, adding there are roughly 200 players in the association with the fastest growing age groups being U9 and the girls’ team.

“The number one focus is keeping kids in the sports they love to play.”

Coates believes one of the ways to get those fields installed is through a partnership with the Sooke School District, which is poised to build new schools in Colwood and Langford to meet increasing enrolment numbers.

It’s a partnership superintendent Jim Cambridge said the district is open to. In the past, SD62 has partnered with West Shore Parks and Recreation. As part of that partnership, it contributed the difference in the cost of installing an artificial field instead of a grass one at Royal Bay Secondary School in exchange for field time.

“We have always worked with our municipalities and rec. associations to create partnerships that are beneficial to the community,” Cambridge said.

West Shore Parks and Recreation also expressed support for the idea.

“All of our user groups are increasing in numbers and so there is a very big demand for quality fields,” said Wade Davies, manager of operations with parks and recreation. “It’s totally reliant on finances, availability of the land, and working in a partnership with the school board.”

Plans are still in the early stages to get the project off the ground. In the coming weeks, Coates hopes to make presentations to seek support from Langford, Highlands and Metchosin councils, as well as other athletic associations.

kendra.wong@goldstreamgazette.com

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