Passersby may have noticed a flurry of activity at the Gorge Soccer Association facility at Hampton Park in Saanich.
The club is getting close to completion of the replacement artificial turf on the George Kulai pitch, 15 years and thousands of hours of community use since the first artificial turf was laid down on the site. A visiting crew from AstroTurf was on hand laying the new material, pulling it into place, sewing the seams and more.
The main field project was preceded by the replacement of the adjacent John Hughes cage turf.
Locals will have also noticed dozens of large white bags sitting next to the field since mid-summer when the project began.
In an illustration of true recycling, the old field surface was ground up and turned into pellet to be used as infill for the new turf in one of the final tasks before the field opens for use again.
Since the project was approved by club membership in 2018, a large majority of the approximately $800,000 cost has been covered by grants. That includes $250,000 through the provincial Community Gaming Capital Grants Program, and $455,000 through the federal-provincial Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
The remainder of the project’s funding came from various fundraising efforts by the club, plus the District of Saanich provided significant in-kind support.
For the Gorge Soccer Association, which lists more than 1,300 adult and youth members, the successful completion of the turf project marks a dramatic turnaround from the dark days of 2016. That’s when it was discovered that longtime president Terry Marra, who died of an overdose of prescription medication around the same time, had been writing large cheques to himself from the club’s accounts for about eight years, resulting in a loss of at least $368,000.