Monday June 27, 2022 | SOOKE, BC [Updated 7:35 pm]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
On a hot sunny Sunday summer late afternoon in Sooke, a long-time goal for the community was achieved.
Headlining yesterday’s event to open the Sooke Community Sport Box at Raven’s Ridge Park was Premier John Horgan who is MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca where Sooke is the core of his base.
District of Sooke Mayor Maja Tait was the emcee.
About 150 people attended the June 26 event including CRD Chair Colin Plant, Juan de Fuca Regional Director Mike Hicks, and T’Sou-ke Elder Shirley Alphonse. District of Sooke Councillors Jeff Bateman, Al Beddows, Dana Lajeunesse and Tony St-Pierre were there, along with senior SEAPARC Leisure Complex staffers SEAPARC Manager Melanie Alsdorf and Program Services Manager Colleen Hoglund, and former SEAPARC Manager Steve Knoke.
There were free hot dogs and cupcakes. Some of the refreshments were served by Beddows and St-Pierre.
Recreation Program Assistant Darcy Smith managed a token-through-a-maze game by which every person won a prize.
A few RCMP officers attended, as a light touch for Premier Horgan’s security.
People took care to avoid too much heat and sun exposure. The temperature was around 30°C, with a light breeze. Several tent coverings were set up for activities and food service, as well as access to shade.
The weekend was predeeded by heat warning messaging led by the provincial government as well as health authorities.
This new facility is a significant achievement for Sooke, the stirrings for which began as far back as 2011. Former District of Sooke Councillor Bev Berger was there yesterday; she was thanked by Premier Horgan in his remarks yesterday, for keeping the project in front of Sooke Council over the years.
Mike Hicks as former chair of the SEAPARC Commission had also played a significant role. When he started on the project the proposed budget was $400,000. At completion the facility completion tallied a $1.2 million price tag (the remainder of funds provided by a federal government grant). There still isn’t a roof, but the foundation has been built to support it.
SEAPARC Leisure Complex (owned by the Capital Regional District) is funded by taxes levied from property owners in the District of Sooke and the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area.
Horgan enjoyed the day:
Premier Horgan — who the previous week had announced that his bout with throat cancer has been conquered — was out on the outdoor lacrosse surface, clearly enjoying his restored good health. He opened his remarks to the crowd by retelling why lacrosse is so important to him — in his university days in Ontario (out looking for adventure after growing up in Saanich) he met his wife Ellie at a lacrosse game, and the rest is history.
Garrison missed the day:
Had he been there, Randall Garrison, MP (Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke) would have been part of the ribbon-cutting. Garrison rarely misses an opportunity to be out his constituency, but two days prior the House of Commons had just wrapped up for summer.
Garrison was attending the Pride Parade in Victoria yesterday.
Outdoors after pandemic restrictions:
After two years of public health restrictions due to COVID, this summer there is still palpable relief and enjoyment among crowds at outdoor events — that they can be together with people and mingle again.
The Sport Box crowd yesterday was upbeat and action-oriented.
Two games were played on the outdoor slab floor after the official speeches — a mini lacrosse game featuring Juan de Fuca Whalers U13 Players and a mini ball hockey game featuring U9 Sooke Minor Hockey Association Players.
One day a school next door:
“Sooke has waited a long time for this new community sport box, which will be a hub for sports and recreation for people of all ages, for many years to come,” said Horgan.
The vision is for a range of community activity to revolve around the site, which will be managed by the SEAPARC Leisure Complex staff.
The facility is in the Sunriver Estates area, at 2430 Phillips Road, next door to the future Sunriver Elementary School (a Sooke School District 62 facility, promised since 2008 — dependent on population growth and BC Ministry of Education funding).
No one from the SD62 School District was present for the ribbon cutting portion of the event on June 26. SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar arrived later, after another commitment.
SD62 covers a wide swath of the west shore (Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, Highlands, Sooke, Juan de Fuca, and parts of View Royal) and as such has two zones — trustees for the Sooke and Juan de Fuca area (Milne’s Landing) zone are Bob Phillips, Margot Swinburnson and Allison Watson.
Following in the Langford footsteps (where schools share some recreational facilities that are provided by the city), Sooke’s new sport box will be a facility made available for school district use, when the time comes.
Trees and view:
Even though the new community sport box is nestled within a forested area, Mayor Tait noted in her opening remarks yesterday that more trees will be planted at the site which offers a lovely view.
Those attending yesterday were encouraged to walk, bike and carpool to the event, but it’s quite a hike up the road from the main highway. Accessible parking and 40 parking stalls were available in the temporary parking lot, accessed by the marked laneway off Phillips Road.
Land and facility:
The Community Sport Box project investment was $1,292,778 ($892,778 Canada Infrastructure Program – Community, Culture, and Recreation Program grant and $400,000 contribution from Sunriver Estates, the District of Sooke and SEAPARC).
The District of Sooke acquired 4 ha (40,000 m²) of parkland in 2015. The subject property, 2430 Phillips Road, is zoned P2 (Community Facilities), located within the Sooke River Watershed, and is accessible from the shared access driveway located at 2448 Phillips Road with Sooke School District 62.
The box is approximately the size of an indoor hockey rink at 200 feet in length by 60 feet wide. Space for spectators has been incorporated into the site plan.
Consideration has been given to coordinate parking with the neighbouring school site and access via alternative modes of transportation.
The new multi-use sports box recreational facility meets the goals and objectives of Section 4.11 Leisure/Recreational Services and Facilities in the District of Sooke Official Community Plan. The development conforms to the required maximum lot coverage and required setbacks for structures and lands adjacent to residential zones and CD zones as per its current P2 (Community Facilities) zoning.
The District’s recreational partner SEAPARC identified the community need for an outdoor boarded multi-use sports box in their 2015 Strategic Plan.
“We know how important recreation options can be to keep our community a vibrant and healthy place to live and thrive,” says SEAPARC Commission Chair Al Beddows. “This new sport box is another way for us to build a space where anybody, of any age or ability, can come to meet, play and stay active.”
Thanks for the funding:
“This project is a collaboration of local, provincial and federal partners culminating in a community space that will bring neighbours together and be enjoyed for generations to come,” said Mayor Maja Tait.
“On behalf of Sooke, thank you to the federal and provincial governments for their funding through the Canada Infrastructure Program, and to the Capital Regional District and SEAPARC, our recreation partner, for their work in helping our community realize the potential of such a wonderful facility.”
Sooke Community Sport Box grand opening coming up (June 10, 2022)