(From Left to Right) Steve Knoke

Sooke in line for all-weather soccer field

Talk of an all-weather field may just become a reality, thanks to a grant application that has been set into motion.

The SEAPARC commission has passed a motion to endorse putting in a grant application on behalf of the Capital Regional District (CRD) for an all-weather soccer field to be situated in Fred Milne Park.

If the grant application – which is to be submitted by April 15, 2015 – is approved, overall cost for the new field project will be around $1.2 million at 100 per cent financing, notes Mike Hicks, SEAPARC Chairman and CRD Regional Director for Juan De Fuca.

“SEAPARC will now be working on putting together the feasibility and the grant application for an all-weather field on this property,” Hicks said, adding that the field is still subject to the CRD endorsing it as their project next month.

The grant – which is part of the capital infrastructure – directs funding to projects that are larger-scale, regional-impact, innovative and aligned with the federal gas tax fund objectives, according to a CRD news release.

“It’s a long shot- not a given by any means, but at least we’re in the game now,” he said.

The proposal isn’t without given cause though. Currently Sooke’s soccer programs sometimes rent out the all-weather field in Langford for some of their practices, as the current soccer fields at Fred Milne Park become unusable during extended periods of rain.

“There are entire weeks of missed games because of all the rain in this field, and that just isn’t right,” Hicks said.

The demand is certainly there – at the moment there are 17,000 enlisted participants on the lower Vancouver Island who play soccer – 570 of whom are registered with the Sooke Soccer Club alone.

Following some pre-planning between SEAPARC board members and the Sooke Community Association, Field 3 was chosen as the suggested site of the new all-weather field, with a proposed measurement of 110 meters by 70 meters.

“There is no drainage, no irrigation, this field is very underdeveloped, making it a prime candidate,” said Robin Saxl, president of the Sooke Soccer Club.

Best part is, with an artificial field, it doesn’t need fancy (and expensive) sprinkler systems, as there is no organic material present to be nourished in the first place.

How does an all-weather field work anyway? Well, all the sod is removed, then a concrete base is constructed, after which the base is filled with a type of porous rock so the water can drain through it. Finally, an artificial grass mat is rolled over everything, much like a shag carpet. Given its silicone-based construction, the mat is impervious to freezing temperatures and other effects of weather.

While the project still requires the CRD endorsing it next month as their own, Hicks remains optimistic about the outcome.

“I want to call on all kids to keep their fingers and toes crossed for this grant,” he said.