Open letter published in the Times Colonist newspaper Saturday, December 5, 2020

Mayor Lisa Helps and Minister Whiteside: Keep your promise and reinstate the original plans for the Vic High Memorial Stadium Revitalization Project

Dear City of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, City Council, School District 61 Trustees and Honourable Jennifer Whiteside:

We are writing in support of the Friends of Vic High (FOVH), a group of community members and alumni seeking to have the originally envisioned Memorial Stadium Revitalization Project (MSRP) for Vic High built as promised.

Read Times Colonist article by Cleve Dheensaw>>
Read related stories on the Vic High issue, here>>

We understand that the MSRP has now been drastically downsized from the original vision of a multi-sport artificial turf field with a standard, eight-lane 400-metre rubber-topped track, built to competitive standards. Part of the revitalization project plans included a field house, lighting and improved stadium seating.

Advocating for the students

Pending votes in City Council have made this an urgent matter. Therefore, it is imperative for us to support the FOVH’s efforts in advocating for the
rights of current and future Vic High students. These students have been systemically disadvantaged for decades by the very institutions entrusted to
provide them with fair and equal access to opportunity.

Doug Clement winning the 440-yard at the Vic High Memorial Stadium in 1951 at BC High School Championships for King Edward High School located in Vancouver.

As a group, we are Olympians, professional and international athletes, coaches and school administrators. Some of us are proud Vic High grads. We are inspired to do our part to ensure Vic High youth have access to athletic resources, program support and facilities that students at other schools in the Greater Victoria area enjoy and have enjoyed for decades.

And investment in athletics is an investment in our future

We know firsthand the importance of receiving the proper support through resources and through access to competitive-standard training facilities during our formative
years. For many of us, this opportunity began in high schools with such facilities. We know Vic High students are disadvantaged by not having this support and access.

Victoria High School. The only high school in the City of Victoria proper. Originally built n 1867, the current building was erected in 1914. Oldest school north of San Francisco and west of Winnipeg.

The first century of Vic High’s 144-year history is remembered as a time of pride and high-level achievement on the playing fields. It boasted championship-level basketball teams, rugby squads and, of course, top-ranked track-and-field athletes. Many went on to achieve success on a global stage.

Over the past four decades, that proud history and tradition were significantly eroded due to the lack of investment on routine maintenance in terms of resources and care. Memorial Stadium has been a symbol of that decay. This once-proud facility built to honour Vic High’s war dead was left to fall apart.

Symbols are important. Olympic rings, podiums, medals, trophies and shiny new uniforms announce school pride. However, for decades, Memorial Stadium has been a physical reminder and a symbolic marker that Vic High students matter less. How are these students to believe otherwise when they see their peers at Oak Bay being supported with university-like athletic facilities? Or when they see that this resource advantage translates directly into athletic achievement that Vic High kids can only dream about?

Vic High’s current and future students deserve to shape their futures from the same starting line as kids who attend other schools. As we know firsthand, athletics plays an important role in forming well-rounded, productive members of society, teaching important lessons such as commitment, perseverance, pride, collaboration and that hard work leads to collective and individual achievement.

These students deserve the respect and dignity accorded their peers. Not investing in these children equally for one reason or another will undoubtedly rob our future society of the potential that could positively impact our city, province and country for decades to come. Our personal experiences in achieving long-term goals attest to this.

Systemic inequality must end now

Systemic racial inequality affecting black Canadians, people of colour and indigenous people, has rightly been front and centre in 2020. We must not lose sight of the systemic inequality of classism, which also persists today in our city, affecting children who attend Vic High and the communities they live in. The current status of the MSRP is a shameful example of this reality. We ask that you act to remedy this issue.

Specifically, we ask that the City of Victoria Council:

  1. Vote against the CRHC application to rezone SD61 land located at the Vic High site;
  2. Reaffirm its 2014 Resolution and continue working with the Vic High’s Alumni Association and SD 61 to explore funding partnerships and finally realize the MSP;
  3. That SD61 cancel the current land-for-monies lease with the CRHC and cancel plans for the eight-metre easement that forces the cancellation of the 8-lane 400-m track and turf sports field;
  4. That the Ministry of Education make public the itemized budget for the nearly $80M seismic upgrade to Vic High with the source of the claimed $2.6M shortfall highlighted for transparency;
  5. That the Honourable Jennifer Whiteside reject the proposed land transfers that trigger the lease of Vic High and its students and the community it serves.
  6. That SD61, the City, and the Ministry of Education address the systemic inequalities experienced by Vic High and its students and the community it serves.

    Read Times Colonist article by Cleve Dheensaw>>
    Read related stories on the Vic High issue, here>>

The voice of the athletes, coaches and facilitators

  • Kelvin Broad — Five-time winner Royal Victoria Marathon, eight-time winner Calgary Marathon, adjunct professor — Canada/New Zealand.
  • Deborah Scott — Three-time Olympian, Commonwealth Games medallist, educator — Canada.
  • Dave Campbell — 1988 Seoul Olympian and Commonwealth Games medallist, educator — Canada
  • Lori Chestnut (Bowden) — Two-time World Ironman champions, five-time medallist — Canada.
  • Paul O’Callaghan — Six-time World Cross Country Championships, coach and educator — Ireland.
  • Bob Reid — National record holder, race director, facilitator — Canada.
  • Ulla Hansen — Seven-time World Cross Country Championships, educator, president of 2020 Pan Am Cross Country Cup — Canada.
  • Jim Swanson — Former competitive hockey and baseball player, owner Victoria HarbourCats — Canada.
  • Stan Peterec — Two-time World Middleweight professional kickboxing champion, coach, owner Peterec’s Kickboxing — Canada.
  • Diane Cummins — Olympian, former national record holder 800m, Pan American and Commonwealth Games medallist — Canada.
  • Rod Dixon — Four-time Olympian and medallist, World Cross Country Championships medallist, New York City Marathon winner — New Zealand.
  • Lorraine Moller — Four-time Olympian, medallist, Boston Marathon winner, coach and best-selling author — New Zealand.
  • Nancy Tinari — Olympian, Pan American Games medallist, editor — Canada.
  • Lynn Kanuka — 1984 LA Olympic bronze medallist, public speaker and coach — Canada.
  • Natasha Wodak — Three-time national record holder, 2016 Rio Olympian — Canada.
  • Moe Elewonibi — NFL and CFL Offensive Lineman, Superbowl Champion — Canada.
  • Don Gillman — Former co-director of Royal Victoria Marathon and chair of Prairie Inn Harriers — Canada.
  • Hans de Geode — Canadian Rugby Team Lock, BC Sports Hall of Fame inductee — Canada.
  • Chris Marsh — Former professional basketball player, University of Victoria Vike and coach — Canada.
  • Lucy Smith — Nineteen-time Canadian champion, Six-time winner of the TC10K— Canada.
  • Bruce Deacon — Two-time Olympian, three-time World Championships, two-time California International Marathon winner, coach — Canada.
  • Brent Fougner — Retired Head Coach of University of Victoria Vikes and Athletics Canada national coach — Canada.
  • Trish Fougner — Former University of Victoria Vike and national-level 800m runner — Canada.
  • Dr. Kenneth Kunz — Competitive masters athlete, medical oncologist, molecular pharmacologist, and mental health and addictions consultant — Canada.
  • Dr. Keith Livingstone — Former elite athlete, coach, best-selling author — New Zealand.
  • Dr. Doug Clement — Olympian, Commonwealth Games Medallist, a retired physician, created the Vancouver Sun Run and Harry Jerome Track Classic — Canada.
  • Dr. Jack Taunton — Victoria and Vancouver Marathon winner, chief medical officer, UBC, professor emeritus — Canada.
  • Sarah Inglis — 10-mile national champion, educator — Scotland.
  • Chris Siver — Lawyer, triathlete, president of Run Sport Victoria.
  • Dave Weicker — Olympian, World Athletics Official.
  • Dr. Steve Sullivan — Runner, triathlete, physician, associate professor of medicine at the University of Victoria. Parent and grandparent, born in Victoria, raised in Esquimalt, lived and worked around the World.
  • Steve Fleck — Professional race announcer and commentator, track & field, cycling, and triathlon.
  • Cameron Levins — 2012 London Olympian, former 10,000m national record holder, current national marathon record holder.
  • Dr. Richard Hunt — Artist, dancer, ritualist.
  • Bruce Kidd — Ph.D., author, professor, ombudsperson University of Toronto, Olympian
  • Mariah Kelly — International middle-distance runner, Athletics Canada West Hub

To learn more about this issue, please visit the website:

Sign petition: Donate to GoFundMe campaign

Contact: Stephen Dorsey at

Read Times Colonist article by Cleve Dheensaw>>
Read related stories on the Vic High issue, here>>

*The Friends of Vic High (FOVH) is not a registered non-profit and, as such, regrets that they cannot issue tax receipts