A West Shore youth football team says they had to switch fields following complaints from nearby residents about noise and their mobile floodlight towers.
The Westshore Warriors football team says for years they’ve practiced at the Belmont Field in Langford, twice a week from 6 to 8 p.m. As the sun sets earlier towards the end of the year, the Warriors spent tens of thousands of dollars on mobile floodlights to power their evening practices.
Recently, however, the Sooke School District (SD62) has received complaints from residents near the field over noise and their light towers. The school district then informed the Warriors that they wouldn’t be able to use their floodlights on the field, forcing them to seek out another practice field.
“We’re not allowed on the field because of the lighting issue because of some complaints from the neighbours. It’s very frustrating,” said David Hansen, head coach of the Warriors’ peewee team.
Since then, the team has secured Spectrum Community School as their practice field, but coaches and parents say the location change is frustrating because of where they live. When practicing at the Belmont location, they say some kids had to bus to get to the field on time.
“Now they have to drive them into town. We have kids that live as far as Shawinigan Lake, Mill Bay because there are no ball clubs,” said Paulette Nedeau, a parent of a player.
The field at the Saanich school isn’t as safe for football practice, according to the coaches, because the field isn’t as maintained
“Uneven field surfaces, ruts, holes, all those kinds of things,” said the Warriors’ Junior Bantam Coach Ryan Bayne. “It’s not a field that’s been used for football for a long time.”
The team says they took steps of their own to find a solution including contacting local MLAs, and starting an online petition which has garnered more than 1,000 signatures.
SD62 told CHEK news that they have a strong relationship with the Greater Victoria Minor Football Association and they’re actively looking for solutions.
“We are actively working together to find an amicable solution to address the noise and light concerns brought forward by residents near the Belmont turf field,” said SD62 spokesperson Kristen McGillivray in an emailed statement. “and to find ways to ensure that community athletes have spaces in their home community.”
Players for the Westshore Warriors aren’t happy with the change and say that community sports shouldn’t face barriers.
“Come on guys, it’s youth football in the community, kids are out having fun. It’s only from six to eight, come on,” said Sachin Olak, Westshore Warriors player.