July 1, 2021 – The City of Victoria has submitted an Application to Dismiss to the Human Rights Tribunal seeking dismissal of our case. We expect the Human Rights Tribunal to make a ruling on the City’s application sometime in the next two or three months. The ruling was expected some time ago, but the process has been delayed as a result of Covid-19.
We remain confident that the City’s Application to Dismiss will not be granted and that our case will proceed to a full hearing before the Tribunal.
The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has reviewed and accepted a Human Rights Group Complaint filed by Beacon Hill Softball parent Mike Sharpe on behalf of all girls who have played softball at Pemberton Park since the start of the 2019 season and/or currently play at Pemberton Park. (It is expected that the Complaint will be amended before the hearing date to include additional girls.)
The complaint is based on gender equity. It alleges that the City of Victoria has discriminated, and is continuing to discriminate against the girls by failing to provide a regulation softball field and park infrastructure comparable to what they provide for the predominantly male baseball programs in the city. You can view the complaint and the city’s response here.
The complaint is expected to be heard before the Human Rights Tribunal sometime later in 2021.
“After some significant effort and communication over the last three years, we are unable to get to a point where we have a commitment from the Parks Department to make this change … If unsuccessful, we are in jeopardy of severely hampering our girls softball program.”
Darren Lockyer, Pres. Beacon Hill Baseball Softball Association
City of Victoria Public Town Hall – November 2019
“I think it is simply a matter of, you know, prioritization and ability for us to take on that project … But at this stage, it has not been a project that we have been able to raise to the priority level that we can undertake it.”
Thomas Soulliere, Director of Parks, City of Victoria
City of Victoria Town Hall – November 2019
WHO IS INCLUDED IN THIS COMPLAINT?
All female softball players registered with the Beacon Hill Baseball Softball Association who have played at Pemberton Park since the start of the 2019 season and/or currently play at Pemberton Park are part of the group. The complaint is against the City of Victoria. There is no financial or time obligation on the part of members of the group or their families.
Little League baseball, played predominantly by boys, takes place in the city of Victoria at Hollywood Park and Hillside Park. The City provides and maintains high quality facilities which are properly prepared and installed in accordance with Little League Canada regulations for league and tournament play. The boys also have access to permanent batting cages adjacent to their fields, field lighting, and fully operational concession stands.
The girls play softball at Pemberton Park on a non-regulation field which is not skinned for softball, or any known sport for that matter. It does not meet the regulations of any softball organization in Canada. The park does not have a batting cage or field lighting, and the concession is very limited in what it can offer.
In 2017, the City set aside $157,000 for field, infrastructure and landscape improvements at Hollywood and Pemberton Parks. Only $2,000 of that was spent at the girl’s field at Pemberton (1.3% of the available funds).
About the Complainant
The Human Rights Group Complaint was filed by Mike Sharpe on behalf of the girls who play softball at Pemberton Park. We are fortunate and thankful to have Mr. John Heaney as our legal counsel assisting the girls in this matter. We also appreciate the assistance of U14 parent and lawyer Neil Marcovitz, as well as Bill Hawkins, the President of the South Vancouver Island (SVI) Minor Fastpitch Association.
Mike has worked extensively for the last 4 years with the City of Victoria on behalf of the girls’ softball program to try to come to an agreement with the City Parks Department to provide equal field and facilities at Pemberton Park for the girls program as they have done for the boys at Hollywood Park and Hillside Park.
He was instrumental in coordinating with the City of Victoria on the construction of the new concrete bleacher built and paid for by Beacon Hill at Hollywood Park and is relied on regularly around both Hollywood and Pemberton Parks for maintenance as well as pre- and post-season set up.
Mike has been and continues to be involved with the Beacon Hill Baseball Softball Association as a parent and assistant coach since his daughter started in T-Ball up to the present U14 age group. He also served as a Board member until February 11, 2020 when he resigned in order to file this complaint. He hopes to return to the Board following the completion of the Tribunal hearing.
What are We Asking For?
We are seeking a commitment from the City of Victoria and the Parks Department to provide and maintain a safe and properly skinned infield for the girls softball program at Pemberton Park and to provide similar amenities as they provide for the boys baseball programs.
We are seeking unspecified damages for injury to the dignity, feelings, self-respect and negative impact of opportunities of each girl who has been registered with the Beacon Hill Baseball Softball Association since the start of the 2019 season and/or currently plays at Pemberton Park.
We are seeking an agreement which requires the City of Victoria to create a gender equity policy pertaining to the use of city parks which sets out objectives and guidelines for the Parks Department which, on implementation, will prevent situations like this from re-occurring.
View a comparison of Softball and Baseball facilities.
View comparison of Pemberton with other softball fields.
What Do You Need to Do?
NOTHING AT ALL! There is no time or financial obligation for members of the group or their families. If you or your daughter feel that the girls have not been treated by the City of Victoria in a fair and equitable manner and believe they deserve a proper playing field and infrastructure for their sport, you may add your comments using the form below.
What Can You Do to Help?
At the moment, our lawyers are asking players and their parents to contact them so the lawyers can talk to the girls and get a better feeling for what they have experienced as a result of playing on sub-standard fields.
The best way to reach the lawyers is by having the players complete the “Player Survey”. This survey is on a password protected page on this website, and you should have received information on how to access it by email around September 10, 2020. If the email did not arrive, please contact us at email@example.com and we will resend it.
You may also contact our lawyer John S. Heaney directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Updates will be posted on this website whenever more information is available. If you would like to be informed when the site is updated, please check the box in the form below and provide an email address. Your email address will be used only for purposes related to this Complaint, and it will never be shared.
As per the BC Human Rights Tribunal rules, all member of the group or class are automatically covered under this complaint. If your daughter does not wish to be a part of this complaint and would like to opt out, please complete all parts of the form below.
Any person who opts out of the complaint will not receive email notifications of updates and will not be eligible to receive any compensation the Tribunal may award.