Wednesday, November 9, 2011

SOS Responses

Responses to Save Our Stadium from candidates will be posted here without editorial comment in their entirety in the order they arrive (no matter how difficult that may be.)

From Paul Brown (Open Victoria), candidate for Mayor:
I concur with your position. If these  discussions are taking place with the City as you infer, they should not be taking place behind closed doors as they too often do at the City of Victoria. I am running on the Open Victoria Slate of candidates committed to stopping such practices of excluding the public from how the City conducts business. We all need to share in the future of our City.

I would question closing Royal Athletic Park to soccer for the benefit of another baseball franchise. While I welcome such a franchise, the success of baseball franchises in the City has been spotty to say the least.

Shellie Gudgeon, candidate for councillor:
This is the third letter I have received in the last two days regarding this issue. I will certainly look into it. On first glance, it appears to me that RAP should continue to be a multiple use facility.

John C. Turner, candidate for councillor:
I have heard rumors of this, and I am extremely aggitated over this. First off, I do not believe that with all of Victoria's financial issues we can afford to bring in a franchise. Secondly, there is no way that some joker from the other side of the country is going to dictate how we are or aren't going to use our facilities, and thirdly, The RAP was built by generations before us for the benefit of our communities.

If there will be substantial financial inflow to help us address the issues in our communities I am in favour of a shared facility according to the local games program. But I am NOT in favour of privatizing this valuable and safe facility so that our children lose this productive output for their energy. I will stand against the privatization of our resources for corporate monopolization.

Philippe Lucas, incumbent candidate for councillor:
I strongly believe that Royal Athletic Park, as a public facility owned by the city, should be available for a number of different uses and for the greater benefit of the community.  I'm not aware of any secret negotiations, but will support keeping RAP a multi-use facility so that we can all benefit from this public resource.

Robin Kimpton, candidate for councillor:
I grew up fully involved in sports and would support any and all reasonable sporting endeavours. Yes I agree  that sharing of these community-owned facilities should be equitable and respectful of all interests.

Linda McGrew (Open Victoria), candidate for councillor:
I am sorry to hear today of these decisions, conversations and deals are going on behind closed doors with respect to Royal Athletic Park's future. That kind of thing makes my stomach hurt and it is exactly what we at Open Victoria are pushing to change. I live on Cook and Empress and have been part of events, as well as watched family sports, at the RAP for over ten years. It was a shame for us to lose our baseball team last year, but how could it be possible that in order to gain another we must stop youth soccer (and football and night league volleyball I would assume) all together?! I promise that if elected I will not only push to put a stop to unethical dealings behind closed doors, but I will also put the health of our community first, which certainly involves youth sports and a multi-use facility at Royal Athletic as a space which is shared equitable and respectfully.

Aaron Hall (Open Victoria), candidate for councillor:
I have heard about this and have spoken to a couple of guys who play soccer there...

This is a crazy scene! The ban of soccer in the park is terrible and I have already stated in public that I will always vote against a loss of the park to the local soccer teams.

Sorry I have not replied sooner but my email has been crazy lately and I am not 100% able to handle it always...

Please feel free to send me any other questions.

Lisa Helps, candidate for councillor:
Thanks to you all for writing me with your concerns about keeping the Royal Athletic Park as a mixed use facility. I support this. There is an idea in the Times Colonist article that Devon attached, which is to create a roll away outfield fence that would cost $33,000. I think this is a good idea.

I think city-owned facilities should be available for use by a maximum number of citizens. The City does need to find a way to ensure that there is money to maintain the park  (and to avoid another situation like Crystal Pool which has been allowed to fall into disrepair) Hopefully a deal can be struck that enables baseball, soccer, and various festival to have access to Royal Athletic Park all of which will generate enough revenue for the city to pay for it's upkeep.

Finally, I am always interested to learn from other cities. It might be useful in making your case to find other cities across Canada that have a similar facility to Royal Athletic Park and to look at how use has been allocated.

Thanks for your time and for your interest in Victoria!

Steve Filipovic, candidate for Mayor:
Thanks for your letters, you will be happy know that I am on the right
side of this issue for you. Part of my plan is to fund the community
centres to facilitate more civic involvement, but never realized until
now, that Royal Athletic Park was in jeopardy of being privatized?

I support the multi-use aspect of all public amenities. I support the
continued use of your teams use of the facility. I know we can change
the Citys Spending habits and have enough to properly fund our community
services to a higher standard. 

Thanks to Devon for sending an article from the TC,  I see that there is
a low cost option for remedying the issue, so it seems very clear to
support the continued multi-use format.

And thanks to Ian who indicated that there were closed meetings where
thing we decided behind closed doors, no fun at all. I have been hearing
that people are really fed up with governing bodies that aren't
accountable I intend to change that here in Victoria.

I will need your continued help in that matter of course. Please
encourage you community to support this campaign for change. I am about
creating affordable housing for the 63% of residence who live here, and
and reasonable services for the homeless. I do support Public Amenities
and I am against privatization. I also love soccer. I started a
Wednesday Soccer drop in at Vic High and it was the best day of the

Dean Fortin, incumbent candidate for mayor:
I've gotten a few questions lately about Royal Athletic Park and its use by different sports groups, specifically from soccer fans.

First, let me say that the City has hosted some fantastic soccer events, including big events like the Fifa Under 20’s. We continue to seek out these kinds of opportunities to support pro, amateur and youth sports in our community. I also want to stress the that RAP is not the only venue in the city that supports soccer. In fact, many of our youth leagues play out of Topaz Park, a field that meets all the requirements of a full soccer pitch. We will always look for ways to support and foster local sports in our community.

After the loss of the Seals, the City was approached by the West Coast Baseball League about bringing another team to Victoria starting in the 2013 season. Conversations with this league are ongoing, and include a dialogue about ways to meet their needs for their baseball season (that runs about three months of the year) while also meeting other community needs in RAP. I am excited about a new baseball team calling Victoria home.

Up until recently, the Highlanders Football Club called the stadium in Langford home. As they looked for a new home base, the City of Victoria was excited to accommodate them last year at RAP. We will also host them for 2012 and will look to see how that can be facilitated in 2013.

Significant negotiations, like those with the Highlanders and the West Coast Baseball League, are conducted by staff and then presented to council. Obviously, negotiations are not conducted in public, but the final terms are.

Sport is a valuable part of our community, and it is important that we do our best in the city to support all kinds of sports, at all levels, at all of our sporting venues in the city.

I am a big fan of soccer and baseball – of all sports really. I love coaching kids. I appreciate our community’s desire to support and foster sport of all kinds.

John Luton, incumbent candidate for councillor:
My own position echoes that articulated by the Mayor.  You can read his statement at:

Ben Isitt, candidate for councillor:
Thank you for your message and apologies for my delayed reply. I support retaining Royal Athletic Park as a multi-sport, multi-user venue throughout the year. I personally enjoyed attending Victoria Seals games with my family, as an affordable professional sport option within the city limits. However, I would only support a future agreement between the City and a baseball franchise that allowed other users -- particularly amateur athletic associations, as well as organizers of cultural events -- to use RAP year-round.

I welcome any further questions.

Sukhi Lalli, candidate for councillor:
All Public facilities should be multiple use, and Victoria needs more and better facilities.
Sports franchises are businesses and need to stand on their own merit and build their own facilities, or pay for use of the public facilities and be willing to share them.Public demand and use must come first.

Lynn Hunter, incumbent candidate for councillor:
Thank you for your message in support of soccer in our community.   I have been a long time supporter of the beautiful game and will do what I can to make it a success in Victoria.  As the issue of the use of Royal Athletic Park has not yet come before Victoria City Council I have asked the Mayor for his comments on this issue.   I include them below. [not reproduced as they have already been quoted above.]

Charlayne Thornton-Joe, incumbent candidate for councillor:
I believe we need further discussion on this issue so that Council can explore ways to accommodate many users, and to provide the necessary space for our community groups.  I look forward to the discussion when it comes to our Council table.

Chris Coleman, incumbent candidate for councillor:
I am aware that you've already received a response from the Mayor that articulates the history of RAP and how the negotiations of future use of that park are to be done (that is, significant negotiations are done by staff & then the package is presented to Council). I just thought I might add a few of my own thoughts.

As you may know, I've had the advantage of playing three sports on the field at RAP (rugby, football & recreational baseball). Because of this background, I continue to believe that this facility lends itself to a multi-sport approach.

Therefore, when City staff bring forward a report on the possible future uses that could be envisioned for RAP, I will happily push for the continuance of the City's longstanding approach.

I am a little unclear what you mean when you include the word "equitable" in respect to the sharing of community owned facilities. If it means a "fair" division, I'm okay, but if it is to be interpreted more narrowly as an "equal" allotment between all interests, I would have some problems. (I suspect it is just the lawyer in me being too picky about the wording, and what was intended was the first interpretation!)

Also of importance to your organization, is how the City could redevelop our other playing fields to support a number of sprots organizations. Following the example of how Topaz Park was redeveloped in 2005, we saw the introduction of a major all-weather pitch (done in financial partnership with the City, Canada-BC Green Infrastructure, and a number of soccer associations). This change allowed for an additional 3200 hours of programmable playing time. I would see the possibility of two more similar all-weather pitches in the City of Victoria High School and in Beacon Hill Park.

Marianne Alto, incumbent candidate for councillor:
I think RAP is a real gem of a facility in Victoria, and I do support its use as a multi-sport venue.  I believe any agreements for baseball can provide for other uses, (not just for other sports but for festivals and other special events, too) and will certainly make every effort to make sure this happens.