Turf field project at Esquimalt High School awaits government response

Esquimalt community members have their fingers crossed after submitting a grant application for $3.1 million for a new all-weather field at Esquimalt High School.

The Esquimalt Ribfest, the Township of Esquimalt, the Songhees First Nation and School District 61 are all hoping that the application for the federal-provincial Community, Cultural and Recreation Program will grant them the funds for the three-phase project.

“We’re one of the only communities where kids have to leave their community to play winter sports,” said Esquimalt Ribfest Society Chair Tom Woods. “If you get a couple days of rain, you cancel all the games and that means kids aren’t outside getting exercise for a big chunk of the year.”

The “Es-Whoy-Malth Community Field Collaborative” is hoping to convert one of the school’s fields into a turf field with lights in the first phase of the project.

The second phase of the project hopes to see the revitalization of the lower, grass field including a track/chip trail.

Rough schematics for the proposed clubhouse show a two-storey building ornamented with First Nations art designs. (File Contributed/ Esquimalt Rib Fest)

Lastly, a 6000 sq. ft. multipurpose cultural centre and field house is planned for the site, which would include a student gym, music area, change rooms, stands holding 1,100 seats, a viewing area and washrooms. The roof would be covered in solar panels, and the walls would be decorated with art from local First Nations artists.

ALSO READ: Esquimalt Ribfest in need of volunteers

“We’ve put a lot of thought into this grant. Twenty-five per cent of the kids at Esquimalt High are First Nations, so we’ve focused a lot on reconciliation,” Woods said.

If everything comes together the fields and clubhouse would be available to both students and the wider Esquimalt community.

Rough schematics for the proposed turf field at Esquimalt High School. (File Contributed/ Esquimalt Rib Fest)

Part of the application included a 10 per cent contribution from the applicants. The $330,000 was raised over six years by the Esquimalt’s Ribfest, an annual community event featuring ribs, local craft drinks and live music. The volunteer-run event raises funds for the Esquimalt Firefighters Charitable Foundation and the turf field project.

ALSO READ: Hungry? Esquimalt Ribfest is back and better than ever

The federal-provincial government is set to reply to the application some time in the fall.

In the meantime, the next Esquimalt Ribfest is scheduled to run from Sept. 6 to 8.

“It’s all good music, hot ribs and cold beer,” Woods said. “Plus the community is very giving.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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