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Langford says budget, field size partly why funding nixed for SD62 turf field

A memo sent by city staff to council said current field space should meet city’s needs until 2031
Sooke School District board trustee Ravi Parmar standing by a window overlooking the new turf field at Centre Mountain Lellum Middle School. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)

An ongoing assessment of Langford’s parks and trail needs was among the reasons the city opted against funding the Sooke School District’s turf field, according to a memorandum sent to council members by city staff.

Budget concerns and the smaller size of the field - space challenges at the site for the south Langford elementary school meant the field wasn’t going to be regulation size - were also cited as reasons that spurred the city to opt against providing $950,000 in funding for the new turf field, according to a memo sent to city council by Darren Kiedyk, chief administrative officer for the City of Langford.

That money had been included in Langford’s 2022 to 2026 financial plan – passed by previous mayor and council – but a number of other big-ticket items are set to be included in this year’s updated financial plan, putting budgetary pressure on the city.

With timelines on those items tight, like extra funding to the YMCA and money towards the design phase of the new West Shore RCMP detachment, “there is a need to prioritize all city projects to address the most pressing city priorities while keeping taxes as low as possible,” wrote Kiedyk.

READ MORE: Langford residents face higher taxes as council eyes additional spending

Preliminary findings from the parks and trail needs assessment estimated the recently built turf fields at Centre Mountain Lellum and the north Langford schools, in addition to the city’s existing fields, would serve the community’s needs until 2031, based on estimates for population growth, wrote Kiedyk.

“Overall, I’m grateful for the ~$3 million invested to date by the City as I believe in the value that all-weather fields bring to our community & our youth. Even if we can’t always say yes – I remain eager to support opportunities for collaboration with SD62 in the future,” Coun. Colby Harder wrote on Twitter.

While Langford is still in the midst of its budget process, SD62 board trustees voted to go ahead with the grass field design in a meeting on Tuesday (March 14), as the project needed to go to tender on Wednesday (March 15) in order to not impact the scheduled opening, according to SD62 board chair Ravi Parmar.

Provincial funding for the school, announced in June 2022, covers the costs for a grass field but not a turf field. The yet-unnamed south Langford elementary school is estimated to open in fall 2025 with room for 480 students. A grass field costs around $600,000, whereas a turf field with lights can cost between $1 million to $1.5 million depending on the size, according to Parmar.

Langford has partnered with SD62 on two turf fields which have opened this year. The city paid $1.15 million towards the construction of the turf field and installation of lights around the field at Centre Mountain. It also fronted the $650,000 cost of a field at the north Langford site, which SD62 is set to pay back when the school gets provincial funding.

READ MORE: Plans for new Langford school turf field up in the air after deadline missed


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