Alumni group launches civil suit over Vic High lands as construction well underway

A group of Vic High alumni are taking their years-long pursuit of the school’s new playing field and running track to court over what they describe as an improper land swap.

Friends of Vic High School is calling on the court to cancel the right of way on the western edge of British Columbia’s oldest high school property. The land exchange gave way to a natural tree-lined path adjacent to a 160-unit housing project for low- and moderate-income individuals.

Construction is already underway on the project and Vic High’s $80 million seismic upgrade and expansion, which includes a new turf sports field.

But for Friends of Vic High School, the new venue does not replace the former Memorial Stadium, built to honor those who served in World War II. The suit also claims the school board “abandoned” a new runway because there wasn’t enough space — because the eight-meter-wide right-of-way allows for a pedestrian greenway.

The Capital Territory Housing Corporation, which is developing housing projects, told this newspaper in 2022 that Victoria’s requirement for pedestrian greenway easements is in line with the city’s official plans.

In 2021, SD61 said it would not recommend building a new eight-lane track because it would likely cost $7 million, and the fundraising campaign was millions less than that. The Vic High project also includes a car park located between the greenway and the sports fields. The revived school is expected to welcome students back next winter.

Black Press Media has asked the school board for comment on being named in the document.

A 160-unit low-to-moderate income housing project adjacent to Vic High is under construction. An alumni group has taken court action over land transfers related to the project. (Jack Romphf/News Crew)

On Wednesday (April 12), Brit Forsyth filed a civil claim that his children have left and are headed to Vic High.

“I have followed and supported the Friends of Vic High School’s efforts to ensure equity for Vic High School students, both now and in the future,” Forsyth said in a news release.

Alumni groups have painted the school’s lack of access to a new running track and stadium as an equity issue by comparing Vic High’s deterioration to Oak Bay High’s investment in high-end facilities.

“Vic High School has been disadvantaged for more than 50 years compared to other schools as a direct result of government policy decisions that have led directly to persistent systemic inequalities,” said Co-Founder of the Alumni Association Focusing on Systemic Racism and Inequality Issue’s writer Stephen Dorsey said.

“Apart from the long overdue seismic upgrades at Vic High, the second-rate treatment Vic High has received is evident when you compare the investment of resources in Vic High’s sports facilities over the past 50 years to the investment in other schools.”

Friends of Vic High claim to have discovered documents and communications showing the right of way was improperly granted.

The civil suit asks the court to order SD61’s board to “seek and obtain the approval of the Minister of Education and engage in meaningful public consultation before disposing of the (right-of-way) land in any way, including through statutory entitlements.”

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