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‘Evening the playing field’: Saanich Peninsula to get two turf fields in $1.5M project

The project is the result of more than 15 years of lobbying by the Peninsula Soccer Association
The grass fields at Blue Heron Park in North Saanich will be replaced by two turf fields this year after 15 years of lobbying by the Peninsula Soccer Association finally resulted in the three Peninsula municipalities agreeing to fund the $1.5 million project. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)

After more than 15 years of lobbying and fundraising, the Saanich Peninsula is finally getting a pair of artificial turf soccer fields.

The Peninsula Soccer Association has long been working to convince the municipalities of North Saanich, Central Saanich, and Sidney of the merits of replacing the natural grass fields at their home ground at Blue Heron Park with turf. That dream will now become a reality, with two turf fields expected to be installed and ready for play in time for the September season start.

“It’s a game changer for the club. We are the only member of the Lower Island Soccer Association that does not have access to its own turf fields,” said Dale West, the association’s acting president. “When the fields at Blue Heron Park were first converted into soccer pitches, they were built with the intent they would eventually be replaced with turf, but the problem was always with the funding, and we have finally now secured that.”

The turf fields will allow the club and other users to practice and play on the field year-round and in all weather. The current grass fields have to be closed each winter and whenever they get significantly wet in order to protect them from damage.

READ MORE: Artificial turf field proposal for North Saanich to receive additional scrutiny

Beyond “evening the playing field” for the club, as West puts it, he said the new fields will allow the club to expand its programming, and hopefully recruit even more members than the 900 or so they already have registered ranging from four years old to adulthood.

Beyond the initial installation cost and replacement every 10 to 15 years, West said the new fields are also expected to reduce the amount of maintenance the club, and the District of North Saanich will have to perform.

The project is expected to cost a minimum of $1.5 million, according to West, with the club providing around $600,000, North Saanich $650,000, Sidney and Central Saanich $250,000 each, and several local contractors providing in-kind support to reduce costs.

What that project cost does not cover, however, are potential upgrades to the nets and benches, which are likely to be purchased in the near future or potentially as part of the field replacement project, if funds allow.

West said construction is set to start in April, and while it is now funded, the club continues to accept donations at both to help continue improving the site and to allow the club to increase the services it provides to its members and the community.

READ MORE: Langford says budget, field size partly why funding nixed for SD62 turf field


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