EDITORIAL: Sports facilities a good investment

Frequent use of fields, arenas and other infrastructure the payoff

Once playing fields, arenas and other sports facilities are completed, it’s easy to take their presence for granted and the impact they have on the overall health of the community.

Anyone spending time at West Shore Parks and Recreation in Colwood the past two weekends saw firsthand the beehive of activity attracted by the playing fields, tennis courts, golf course, arenas and bike motocross track.

From soccer, lawn bowling, BMX races and figure skating, to field lacrosse, golf, tennis, hockey and curling, the myriad opportunities for healthy recreation and competition made possible by the various facilities was unmistakable.

Participants in these activities come not only from the six members in the West Shore Parks and Recreation Society – five municipalities and one electoral district – but from across the Capital Region. That is good not just for public health, it’s good for business, as visitors to the area use restaurants and cafés, or combine their trip with a visit to retail stores on the West Shore, or maybe do a drive-by or stop in to such higher-end merchants as car dealers.

Building such facilities, whether in Colwood or Langford – home to about 68 per cent of the West Shore’s population and the most developable land – is not cheap. Property owners foot the bill for such projects, with extra revenue such as naming rights and other corporate sponsorship helping lower the hit marginally. But with good financial management at the municipal level, and teamwork between the Society’s members, taxpayers aren’t hit through the nose with huge property tax increases to pay for new fields and arenas.

Some people may disagree with the idea of municipalities taking on such projects, arguing that the users should bear the full brunt of paying them off. But recreation facilities are part of the fabric of our communities and go a long way toward producing the kind of healthy people who lead us now and in the future.

That, along with revenues from usage, is part of the solid investment they are today and become down the road.