Esquimalt community members have their fingers crossed after submitting a grant application for $3.1 million for a new all-weather field at Esquimalt High School.
The Esquimalt Ribfest, the Township of Esquimalt, the Songhees First Nation and School District 61 are all hoping that the application for the federal-provincial Community, Cultural and Recreation Program will grant them the funds for the three-phase project.
“We’re one of the only communities where kids have to leave their community to play winter sports,” said Esquimalt Ribfest Society Chair Tom Woods. “If you get a couple days of rain, you cancel all the games and that means kids aren’t outside getting exercise for a big chunk of the year.”
The “Es-Whoy-Malth Community Field Collaborative” is hoping to convert one of the school’s fields into a turf field with lights in the first phase of the project.
The second phase of the project hopes to see the revitalization of the lower, grass field including a track/chip trail.
|Rough schematics for the proposed clubhouse show a two-storey building ornamented with First Nations art designs. (File Contributed/ Esquimalt Rib Fest)|
Lastly, a 6000 sq. ft. multipurpose cultural centre and field house is planned for the site, which would include a student gym, music area, change rooms, stands holding 1,100 seats, a viewing area and washrooms. The roof would be covered in solar panels, and the walls would be decorated with art from local First Nations artists.
“We’ve put a lot of thought into this grant. Twenty-five per cent of the kids at Esquimalt High are First Nations, so we’ve focused a lot on reconciliation,” Woods said.
If everything comes together the fields and clubhouse would be available to both students and the wider Esquimalt community.
|Rough schematics for the proposed turf field at Esquimalt High School. (File Contributed/ Esquimalt Rib Fest)|
Part of the application included a 10 per cent contribution from the applicants. The $330,000 was raised over six years by the Esquimalt’s Ribfest, an annual community event featuring ribs, local craft drinks and live music. The volunteer-run event raises funds for the Esquimalt Firefighters Charitable Foundation and the turf field project.
The federal-provincial government is set to reply to the application some time in the fall.
In the meantime, the next Esquimalt Ribfest is scheduled to run from Sept. 6 to 8.
“It’s all good music, hot ribs and cold beer,” Woods said. “Plus the community is very giving.”
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