Funding offered to improve Sooke fastball pitch

CRD, community association willing to help

The Juan de Fuca Electoral Area and the Sooke Community Association are willing to help pay for upgrades to Art Morris Park, if the District of Sooke is a willing partner in the project.

Up to $10,000 is earmarked from the electoral area’s federal gas fund to help pay for the $85,000 project, said Mike Hicks, the Capital Regional District’s director for the Juan de Fuca, while the community association has pledged $10,000 for improvements to the park’s main ball diamond.

Money from the district is “very likely,” said Sooke councillor Megan McMath.

For years, Sooke Minor Fastball Association has maintained the park on Throup Rd., which caters to both youth and adult players.

The Sooke Minor Fastball Association says it can no longer afford the maintenance of the park and improvements.

Justin Wilson, association president, says investment from local governments will improve playing conditions for more than 170 kids in the Sooke Region.

“Art Morris Park is not up to the standard of what other fields have throughout Greater Victoria,” Wilson said.

“I’m trying to get us back to what other people have for our kids.”

Sooke is in a unique situation compared to most communities where a not-for-profit private entity, in this case the Sooke Community Association, owns many of the playing fields, and leases them back to sports leagues for a nominal fee.

For the fastball association this means providing maintenance, paying utility bills, and funding capital projects, even though there are other users of the facility.

Wilson said close to $85,000 is needed to upgrade the ball field and money to carry out necessary field maintenance. The association would like to see improved drainage for No. 1 diamond, batting cage improvements, a security gate replacement, a new clubhouse and dugout roof and fencing upgrades.

In the past, neither the district nor the Juan de Fuca Electoral area has contributed to the operation of the park.

“It’s always put on us to fund it, volunteer, and maintain it,” Wilson said.

Wilson said in some cases former presidents of the association have put in “ten of thousands” of dollars in upgrading the facility or donated hundreds of hours of volunteer time.

Juan de Fuca’s grant money is contingent on how much money Sooke puts into project, based on a 25 and 75 per cent split.

Karl Linnell, of the Sooke Community Association, pointed out in the past park maintenance and upgrades were left up to volunteers. Last year, volunteers from his group help rebuild the park’s grandstands.

Both McMath and Wilson said volunteer labour is now not so easy to come by in Sooke, with changing demographics.

“It worked in the past when there were more volunteers,” Wilson said. “It’s more difficult now.”

McMath is confident the district will help fund the project, and is expecting an announcement soon.

“It’s a no-brainer,” she said. “It’s something we need for the community.”



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

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