With the sport booming in popularity, Juan de Fuca Soccer Association is worried about accessing playing space long-term.
The club now has more than 2,000 members – making it one of the biggest user groups on the West Shore – and has been growing quickly in the past four to six years, something association president Kevin Allen expects to continue. While there’s still capacity with new turf fields in Langford opening like Centre Mountain Lellum Middle School and the soon-to-be-opened field at the north Langford elementary school site, Allen worries that won’t last long.
“I really feel that if they’re figuring that what they have currently available to them in the West Shore is adequate, they’re missing something.”
Allen said lit turf fields are particularly in high demand, especially over the winter months when practices during the week happen in the evening and heavy rain usually means grass fields are unplayable.
After the Sooke School District asked for the City of Langford to commit to funding a new turf field at the South Langford Elementary School, Langford said it was evaluating the city’s recreation needs, adding that budget pressures and the planned smaller size of the field at the school meant it couldn’t provide funding for the turf field, according to a memorandum sent to council by Langford CAO Darren Kiedyk.
Preliminary findings from that assessment estimated the city’s fields would serve the community’s needs until 2031, based on estimates for population growth, wrote Kiedyk.
“By the time they get to 2031 they may be finding that things are quite a bit different as far as the amount of people that are living out here, the expectations of the residents, and what they’re looking for in their sports and activities,” said Allen.
If growth in membership continues without new fields, Allen said the quality of the programming could suffer with teams potentially losing time slots as grass fields become unplayable during the winter months. In the near future, finding field space for summer camps is proving to be a struggle, he adds.
In the interim Allen says the club has found some creative solutions, like running the Timbits program for younger ages on the grass fields – because they have less impact on the grass – and having slightly older age groups use the lawn bowl fields during that sport’s offseason.
Allen commended Langford on having the “forethought” to work on a number of field projects like Centre Mountain and the north Langford elementary school site.
“We’ve got to make sure that we’ve got things for our residents to do that are not just purely ‘go to work, come back to my house, go to work, come back to my house.’”