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‘Significant budget challenges’ facing Langford could cut funding for turf field

A new Langford elementary may have plain grass instead of all weather turf

(📸 Zoë Ducklow)

The construction contracts for Langford’s newest elementary school went to tender on March 17 without a commitment from Langford to contribute almost $1 million towards an artificial turf field with lights.

The field was promised by past mayor Stew Young, and was in the draft financial plan, but things have since changed and council might need to allocate that money elsewhere. The fire department says it needs 27 new firefighters, Westshore RCMP says it needs five new officers and a multi-million station upgrade that will cost Langford more than $80 million, and the YMCA just asked for an extra $950,000 in support.

None of that had previously been in the city’s five year financial plan, forcing council to make some hard choices.

Last year’s five year financial plan included $950,000 for an artificial turf field at the South Langford elementary, but “due to significant budget pressures that the City is facing in 2023, there is a need to prioritize all City projects to address the most pressing City priorities while keeping taxes as low as possible," Langford's Chief Administrative Officer, Darren Kiedyk, wrote in a memo to council last week.

$950,000 for a non-regulation field

Not only does Langford have other pressing things to pay for, it has already contributed to two other artificial turf fields with lights. Centre Mountain Lellum Middle School’s artificial turf field opened last fall, and a field on South Skirt Mountain is being built now with used turf from BC Place, while the Sooke School District waits for provincial approval to build North Langford Elementary.

Those two fields will meet the community’s needs for the next several years, “based on current population projections and sports team registration trends,” Langford staff say.

Space constraints at the South Langford location mean the field will be smaller than regulation size. Staff suggested in the memo that $950,000 for a non-regulation field might not be the best investment.

Council hasn’t decided not to fund the field; there have been other pressing matters that pushed this item lower on the priority list.

If Langford decides to contribute to the South Langford field to make artificial turf and lighting possible, changing the tender after a contract has been signed could come with extra costs, the Sooke School District said.