While the August 27, 2014 Sooke news Mirror editorial correctly questions the measurable value of our district’s contribution to the boat launch/hotel boondoggle, what really needs to be addressed today is the need for our district officials to execute the timely and value-based acquisition of assets that will ensure future recreational opportunities for Sooke residents, from toddlers to seniors. Our population has long relied on the goodwill of the fine people of the Sooke Community Association for the provision of sporting fields and meeting spaces, and those among us who have volunteered with the various sports clubs or service groups know full well just how important this intertwined relationship with the SCA is, as it has spawned generation after generation of volunteers in our community. Alas, it would be hard to find a single volunteer among that army who would counter the observation that our fields and facilities are, despite how proud we are of them, nearing the end of their life cycle and barely able to keep pace with the demands of a growing population.
Much has changed in the decades since these fields and buildings were built. Traffic and roads have and will continue to have an impact on softball field use, field quality will slowly erode, and the demographic of the typical family will put greater stress and strain on the demand of volunteers to maintain these recreational assets. The shift toward higher density housing limits opportunity for many children to experience throwing a ball in the back yard or practicing soccer drills. The provision of recreational field surfaces, as a part of wise community planning and growth, is an elemental necessity for our town. To hear that council is advancing a community referendum on bylaw 603 should put a smile on the face of all of us in Sooke, and must have us all asking what more can we do to help with the recreation needs of old and young alike.
Our town is long overdue – and I mean long if anybody in Victoria or Ottawa is reading this – for an infusion of significant infrastructure funding. I am not shy to suggest that an integrated facility of ball fields and soccer fields should be anchored by an indoor artificial turf field house with an attached community centre. Seniors would be able to use such a facility for virtually any activity under the sun with the benefit of indoor sport provision during foul weather. Parents would know that soccer or ball practices would carry on as scheduled regardless of weather. Exhibitions and groups could gather and socialize, bringing folks in our community together for many causes. This is an attainable goal that many communities in British Columbia have successfully completed.
If it seems a little lofty, then you know exactly how the pioneers in our community felt when they first gave consideration to our community hall many years ago. It is now our turn to step up to the plate and work hard for this cause.