The Sooke Horseshoe Club’s plans for a regulation-sized course have been put on hold, after the newly elected council pulled the plug on the original land agreement.
“[We’re] back to square one, pretty well,” said Rick Hobday, Sooke Horseshoe Club secretary treasurer.
Hobday said members of the club had finished clearing 20,000 sq. feet of land adjacent to Fred Milne Park along Sooke River Road, for 24 horseshoe pitches, a parking lot and club house. The club was waiting for a lease from the district — as agreed by the previous council — but before that could happen the agreement was rejected by the new council.
According to Hobday, the new council, elected on Nov.19, 2011, said permitting the Sooke Horseshoe Club to claim the land near Sooke River Road would set a precedent for other non-profit groups to build on public land.
As an alternative, council suggested the Sooke Community Association and Sooke Horseshoe Club work together to develop a horseshoe venue on the Sooke Flats.
“They wanted us to move to work with the Sooke Community Association, but it floods and they don’t want to give us any suitable land to put the number of courts that we need to hold championship games,” he said.
Mayor Wendal Milne said there were different complexities to consider before signing over the public land to one party.
He said there were traffic and congestion concerns along Sooke River Road, as Fred Milne Park is commonly used by the Sooke Soccer Association.
Also to consider was environmental issues, as the nearby land has park value and is home to geese.
Milne said council is in complete support of a horseshoe club in Sooke, but was not prepared to sign the land away without first consulting the rest of the community.
According to Hobday, hosting horseshoe championship games could bring around 100-200 people into the Sooke community from around the province and world.
Hobday is currently seeking any donors, who would be willing to give and lease a piece of flat land measuring 90,000 sq. feet, tax free.
The club currently has a $3,000 grant from the district to spend on developing land.
Until then, four residents of Sooke, who play horseshoes competitively, will continue commuting to the Victoria Horseshoe Club off Glanford Avenue.