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Turf war on the West Shore

A rendering of the new 480-elementary school being built in South Langford is shown. (Sooke School District) A rendering of the new 480-elementary school being built in South Langford is shown. (Sooke School District)
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Langford, B.C. -

Construction on a new, 480-seat elementary school is underway in South Langford, an area consisting of mainly residential homes.

“For any young families in the South Langford area, there’s not a lot of amenity land,” said Ravi Parmar, chair of the Sooke School District Board of Education.

The school district was hoping to build the school with a lit, turf all-weather field. Partial funding for that part of the project would need to come from Langford City Hall.

“I sent a letter in January and followed up in February,” said Parmar.

The district received no response from mayor and council.

“Then we sent a final letter in March letting them know we just need an answer one way or another,” said the chair.

With plans needing to be finalized to begin construction, the district decided to proceed without the turf field and lights, settling on an unlit grass field.

“It’s unfortunate the rhetoric that is going around, because it hasn’t even come up to council yet. It’s part of the budgeting process,” said Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson.

Goodmanson says council hasn’t decided yet either way if it is willing to fund the field and expects that conversation to happen around the council table in April. That's when the city budget needs to be finalized.

It’s a budget that has some big ticket items in it.

“We’re trying to figure out how we pay for 27 new firefighters and five new police officers when the previous council only budgeted us for two,” said Goodmanson.

He also points to financial stresses from having to save the YMCA/YWCA operation in Langford and build a new, $81-million police station.

“It’s not that we’re ignoring it, it just hasn’t been the top of our priorities yet, and that’s no disrespect for the school board,” said the mayor.

User groups like the Westshore Warriors Football Club say the mayor and council need to make the construction of more turf fields a priority.

“We need all the fields possible for all of our associations because our municipality is growing,” said Lucy Hansen, team trainer with the Westshore Warriors.

Hansen says between football, soccer and field lacrosse, field time has become hard to come by for sports teams on the West Shore.

“Everything is still a possibility until it comes to council,” said Goodmanson.

The mayor isn’t ruling out council supporting the field or the lights as a separate item.

The school district says if council did decide to support the field, it’s not too late, but it will now come with added costs.

“Because of the fact that our tender went out on Wednesday and any time you make changes to tender of construction projects, it complicates things from a costing perspective,” said Parmar.

For now, construction will proceed without plans to build an all-weather field that community groups can use, one that council isn’t sure it can afford.  

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