The running track behind Oak Bay High is rarely empty.
Frequently, students stream around the Jack Wallace Memorial Track in a quest for greatness, and many find it. The school boasts 30 provincial championships and 130 Island championships in track, principal Tom Aerts noted. More than 100 Oak Bay track and field athletes have earned places in university track and field programs across North America – some achieving international acclaim.
But the ring near Oak Bay Recreation Centre attracts athletes of all ages, abilities and communities seeking exercise or camaraderie. It’s not unusual in good weather to see older folks trek around with walking aids, or younger ones push baby carriers. That doesn’t even take into account those in other forms of training, such as taekwondo.
“We love it. The whole purpose is to have a space used by the whole community. It’s so much more than just a school track,” Aerts said.
The track is Commonwealth Games legacy infrastructure – last resurfaced for 1994 – and while well maintained, it’s in need of a revamp. A campaign started in 2018 targeted $240,000 for a facelift. As with most things, three years later the upgrade estimate is higher – $376,000.
The Jack Wallace Memorial Track Campaign kicks into high gear this winter under the theme “keeping the community on track.” Though pushed back, the targeted finish line remarkably remains the same.
The goal pre-coronavirus pandemic was to have it resurfaced in time for the Canadian Francophone Games, said Jan Hemming, Oak Bay High Alumni Association president.
Greater Victoria won the right to host the 2021 Games, which includes French-speaking students from across Canada, but those plans were cancelled due to COVID-19 and recently rescheduled for July 2022. More than 1,100 participants attended the Games in New Brunswick in 2017, and organizers anticipate about 1,200 here next year.
The track resurfacing campaign has $171,000 in the bank, courtesy of several groups including Oak Bay, Kiwanis, Greater Victoria School District and private donors, and the hope is to gather the final $250,000 and complete the project in time for the Games.
The alumni association spearheads many fundraising initiatives for school projects and deliberately includes current students in projects. For the track campaign, 2021 graduate Kyla Younger donated time and expertise to create a logo.
Track donations beyond $20 are eligible for a taxable receipt. Donations can be online through the school at oakbay.sd61.bc.ca/news-events/jack-wallace-memorial-track-resurfacing-project or Rotary at canadahelps.org/en/charities/oak-bay-rotary-foundation.
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