The West Vancouver Place for Sport is a partnership between West Vancouver Schools and the District of West Vancouver. Now almost seventy years old, West Vancouver’s only running track has a proud history as the place where children could run, seniors could walk safely, and athletes could train and compete at the highest levels. Located on the campus of West Vancouver’s largest public school, this facility, which also incorporates a deteriorating grass field, is in urgent need of replacement.
The demand for a safe, all-weather multi-sport and leisure facility for all ages has never been higher and continues to grow with our aging population and arrival of new neighbours. Demand has far outgrown field availability. There is no other public track facility in West Vancouver. Artificial turf fields can be utilized in poor weather conditions and are essentially a recreation centre without walls. The space allocation of a single turf field can replace five grass fields.
Co-locating a facility like this with a secondary school optimizes the user-base and is a prudent use of tax-payer dollars. This large piece of flat land is centrally located, on transit routes, features ample parking and has disabled access. In addition, as the project is upgrading an existing site, there is not a requirement for site rezoning. The landscape and character of the area will not change.
West Vancouver Schools (School District #45) will continue to own the asset on behalf of the community.
The current budget for the project is CAD $4.9 million (as at Jan. 2019) and will be paid for through private donations and seed money from key community organizations – West Van Schools, District of West Vancouver, West Vancouver Foundation and West Vancouver FC.
$3.105M has been committed to date including the amounts by the following organizations:
$2,000,000 District of West Vancouver
$250,000 West Vancouver Foundation
$250,000 West Vancouver Schools (School District #45)
$100,000 West Vancouver FC
With a clear demand for this much needed community facility, and with municipal government resources limited, citizen leaders have come forward to support the project and raise the funds privately. This community asset will serve a number of sports initiatives beyond only students in the school system. We have the support of a caring community that wishes to make a difference.
School District Funding:
West Van Schools receives 83% of it’s operating budget through funding by the Ministry of Education operating grant, with the other 17% generated through our specialty academies, International program and programs of choice. Salaries and benefits comprise 87% of our operating budget. The other 13% funds services and supplies.
School capital requirements are funded separately. West Van Schools receives an annual facilities grant of $1.2m (an amount that has remained unchanged for 12 years), and that must cover ALL preventative maintenance, repairs, renovations and upgrades for 19 sites, including both buildings and grounds. This is the only funding available from which West Van Schools could draw for the WVPFS project, which is why their contribution is limited to $250k (21% of our annual grant in a given year).
School districts have no control over municipal tax rates. Funding comes from the Ministry of Education, based on a funding formula that attempts to provide equity in school funding around the province, as opposed to being a return of the actual tax dollars contributed by the citizens of our home community.
The amount for school taxes listed on property tax notices is derived from the assessed value of a property and typically any increase in taxes year over year would be as a result of an increase in the assessed value of the property. However, in 2018 the provincial government introduced an increase in this school portion of property taxes on homes valued at over $3m, which will take effect in 2019. This new increase is called the “school tax” due to the formula for calculating it, but all new revenue will go into general provincial revenue, and may not directly benefit school district funding.
The school taxes contributed by members of our community do not have a direct relationship to the funding our school district receives. In fact, the relationship is somewhat inverse – our community pays some of the highest property taxes in the province due to high property values, but our school district is always at or very near the bottom of the province in terms of the size of our school district operating grant (primarily due to the size of our student population).
Municipalities have many worthwhile projects competing for limited funding. In West Vancouver, fees received through residential development covers the cost of additional infrastructure to support that housing construction – including site services such as water power and sewage; and staff and professional fees. In commercial construction, development contributions are allocated to several Council priorities including childcare, housing for disadvantaged and park development and expansion. In addition, West Vancouver, like many neighbouring municipalities, is struggling with the costs of upgrading, repairing and replacing aging infrastructure. Much of the available funding through tax revenues is being allocated to critical infrastructure maintenance and renewal. Lastly, the District and the school board are separate government entities. Recognizing the community benefit of the project, the District has committed to a financial contribution to this project, even though the mandate of the District does not typically support funding projects on provincial property.
School physical education classes and school sports team activities will use the site between 7:00am and 5:00pm, Monday to Friday. Community activities will be programmed after 5:00 pm and weekends, including track and field, soccer, lacrosse, walking and running by all ages, wheelchair sport and various competitive events. Additional opportunities may be available for programs such as tai chi, yoga and programs in collaboration with the Kay Meek Centre.
Reliable, environmentally sensitive artificial turf product with an in-fill that is both recyclable and safe for players will be used rather than crumb rubber infill. The track surface will be a polyurethane bound all weather rubberized material.
This West Vancouver Place for Sport will be a wonderful community amenity promoting healthy active lifestyles for all ages. It will be a place for building community engagement and athletic excellence.
It will welcome newcomers and celebrate cultural diversity, connect elderly citizens who struggle with loneliness and isolation, support vulnerable and marginalized youth, fully include our indigenous citizens, and remove barriers preventing members of our disabled community from full participation. The West Vancouver Place for Sport is the project that will deliver all of this and benefit the community and citizens of West Vancouver for many years to come.
With the relaunch of the campaign this past February, the target to raise the required funding for the West Vancouver Place for Sport is October 2019. Sourcing contractors will take place through the fall and winter with construction planned to begin late spring 2020. An opening date for the Place for Sport in fall 2020 is expected.