Victoria will use funds that had been earmarked to add a second playing field at Topaz Park to help design a new artificial turf field at Victoria High School.
Replacing the aging artificial sports field at Topaz with two new fields costing between $4 million and $5 million was part of the long-term plan for the park. The city budgeted about $430,000 to do design work this year.
In a decision that still has to be ratified by council, councillors instead agreed to a staff recommendation to instead design a single field to replace the one at Topaz and use about $250,000 of those funds to match funds raised by Vic High alumni to design a replacement sports field there.
City staff noted in a report that in 2014, the city committed to match funds raised by the Victoria High Alumni Association (up to $250,000) toward building a new artificial sports field there. Councillors agreed there will be community consultation on the design of the new field at Vic High.
The total cost of replacing the existing field at Topaz is projected to be between $1.5 million and $2.3 million, of which the city has about $1 million in a reserve.
Councillors agreed to a recommendation from Coun. Geoff Young to investigate orienting the replacement field at Topaz so that there’s capacity to add a second field in the future.
Coun Ben Isitt, who believes there are higher priorities for Topaz than the playing field replacement, including a bike-skills park for kids, a park for skateboarders, and a picnic area, argued it was premature to be considering a replacement field at Vic High when the province hasn’t even made a decision on the future of the school.
Once that’s done, he said, Fernwood residents should be consulted on what they want, rather than relying on what the alumni association wants.
“I think the process is not good. It stinks, to be honest. The B.S. meter is going off for me,” Isitt said.
“For me this is the heart of Fernwood. It’s a cherished precinct. My interest is in talking to Fernwood residents to find out what is their vision for the precinct.”