A group of Vic High alumni have brought their years-long pursuit of a new athletic stadium and track at the school to the courts over what they call an improper land exchange.
The Friends of Vic High call on the courts to quash a right-of-way at the western property edge of B.C.’s oldest high school. That land exchange made way for a natural, tree-lined pathway adjacent to a 160-unit housing project for low- and moderate-income people.
That project and the $80-million seismic upgrade and expansion of Vic High are already well into construction, and the latter includes a new turf athletic field.
But for Friends of Vic High, that new field is no replacement for the former Memorial Stadium, built to honour those who served in the Second World War. The lawsuit also claims the school board “abandoned” a new track because there isn’t enough room – due to the eight-metre-wide right-of-way allowing the pedestrian greenway.
The Capital Regional Housing Corporation, which is developing the housing project, told this paper in 2022 that the pedestrian greenway easement was requested by Victoria to align with the city’s official plans.
SD61 said in 2021 that a new eight-lane track was not recommended as it would’ve likely cost $7 million, while fundraising efforts fell millions short of that figure. The Vic High project also includes a parking lot that will run between the greenway and the athletic field. The revitalized school expects to welcome back students next winter.
Black Press Media has asked the school board for comment on being named in the filing.
The civil claim was filed by Brit Forsyth, a parent whose children have gone and will go to Vic High, on Wednesday (April 12).
“I’ve been following and supporting the Friends of Vic High in their efforts to ensure equity rights for Vic High students, current and future,” Forsyth said in a news release.
The alumni group has painted the school not getting a new track and stadium as an equity issue by comparing how Vic High deteriorated as Oak Bay High received investments for high-end facilities.
“Vic High has been disadvantaged compared to other schools for more than 50 years now due to government policy decisions that have directly contributed to ongoing systemic inequality,” said Stephen Dorsey, the alumni group’s co-founder and an author focusing on systemic racism and inequality.
“Aside from the seismic upgrades that were long overdue at Vic High, when you compare the resource investments in Vic High athletic facilities over the past 50 years with investments in other schools, the second-rate treatment Vic High receives is plain to see.”
Friends of Vic High claim to have uncovered documents and communications that show the right-of-way was granted improperly.
The civil suit calls on the court to order SD61’s board to “seek and obtain the Minister of Education’s approval and engage in meaningful public consultation before disposing of the (right-of-way) land by any means, including by statutory right-of-way.”