Rotary ball park expansion nearing completion

Larger diamonds able to draw larger tournaments from farther afield

Things are looking up for the Peninsula Softball and Baseball Association as the expansion of Rotary Park in North Saanich nears completion.

A four-year plan to improve the baseball facility at Rotary Park in North Saanich is entering its final phase. Once it’s complete, organizers hope to attract more local, regional and provincial events.

Eric Van Rooyen, president of the Peninsula Softball and Baseball Association (PSBA), says the expansion has seen the diamonds extended, an irrigation system put in and the final touch will be putting in new fencing. The association received a little help with that when the Victoria Airport Authority built a segment of its multi-use path through Rotary Park. Van Rooyen said they installed some new fencing in the outfield of one of their diamonds. The airport authority is the owner of the land on which the baseball facility sits.

“We worked closely with them on the placement of the fence,” said Van Rooyen. “We had to watch out for the new irrigation system in the ground.”

He added the airport authority was very accommodating.

The PSBA is hoping their community partners — the Town of Sidney and District of North Saanich — are also helpful when it comes to keeping costs low for water and facility maintenance. Van Rooyen went before Sidney town council on Sept. 23, not to ask for money but to ask the town to consider increasing its maintenance of the facility now that there are more things to keep ship-shape. He’s also hoping both the town and the district (which he plans to visit later this month) can see their way to keeping their water rates low.

“That way, we can keep our membership fees the same,” he explained.

Each year, the PSBA collects fees from players and $15 from each registration goes into a park improvement fee. It’s from that pool of money that the association has been able to pay for the expansion. They hope to complete two of three ball diamond fences this year.

“We have been able to pay for all of this ourselves and volunteers have been doing all of the work.”

It’s this kind of community effort that Van Rooyen hopes will make the two municipal governments sympathetic to their cause. Already, he said, Sidney’s parks department has contacted him looking to set up meetings with North Saanich.

The growth of the park, Van Rooyen said, will enable the PSBA to bid for provincial tournaments. The larger diamonds and new fencing will increase their chances of drawing more people.

“I think it’s Sidney, the Peninsula and our own facility that will sell us (to provincial organizers),” he said. “That combination is great.”