A future school site on Langford’s Skirt Mountain is getting an artificial-turf field using secondhand turf from BC Place stadium in Vancouver.
The six-acre parcel was bought by the province for $6.6 million in 2018 to meet future needs in the Sooke School District, one of the fastest-growing districts in the province.
While funding for the planned school has not yet been approved, the school district and City of Langford decided to team up to install a field that can be used in the meantime.
Langford is paying about $1 million to put in the lights and turf that was previously used at BC Place — home to the B.C. Lions and high-calibre sporting events — but is still in good condition.
The stadium sold a portion of the turf to Langford after getting it replaced. The cost to the municipality was about $285,000 for turf that would have otherwise cost about $800,000.
Langford Mayor Stew Young said the BC Place turf is replaced every few years but is still fine for community sports.
Once the school gets funding, Langford will be given the approximately $650,000 that would have gone to install a regular grass field, he said.
Sooke School Board chairman Ravi Parmar is hopeful the new North Langford Elementary School will get its funding next year, noting design work on the school has already been done.
The field, expected to be ready by early in 2023, will provide more space for community users and sports organizations, and will provide an amenity in an area that has homes with young families, Parmar said.
“Instead of living across from some rubble, they’re going to have a beautiful turf field,” he said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to have turf and lights on the North Langford Elementary site now.
“Now all we need is a school.”
Putting in the field also sends a message to the provincial government that the school district is ready to move ahead with the school, Parmar said. “That community deserves a new school with the level of growth it’s seen,” he said.
When the new school opens, it will have exclusive use of the field during school hours, while others can book it for evenings, weekends and non-school days.
Lucy Hansen, president of the Greater Victoria Minor Football Association, called the new field “amazing news for the kids in our community and for community sports.”
“There is a lack of fields that needs to be addressed.”
Seeing the school district and Langford partnering on the field initiative “demonstrates the understanding from both parties involved of the heavy strain on all field venues here in the West Shore,” said Kevin Allen, president of the Juan de Fuca Soccer Association.