LETTER TO THE PARENTS
August 8, 2020
Hello Softball Parents and Players,
Many of you know me, but for those who don’t, my name is Mike Sharpe. I’ve been involved with Beacon Hill as a volunteer parent, board member, assistant coach and general parks maintenance person since my daughter was in T-ball. She now plays softball at the U14 level.
I was in charge of coordinating the construction of the new concrete bleacher at Hollywood Park. I also coordinated the relocation of the Pemberton Park dugouts, the increased seating area and the expansion of the clubhouse/score shack. In addition, I have also been one of Beacon Hill’s contacts with the City to ensure that our park needs are addressed.
Today I am writing you as a concerned parent whose complaint about the City’s discriminatory treatment of girls’ softball versus boy’s baseball has been accepted for adjudication by the BC Human Rights Tribunal. As recommended to me by the Chair of the Tribunal, the case is called “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 v. Municipality of Victoria (City) (Case Number: 20456)”. (Whew!)
More background information about the case, including copies of our Complaint and the City’s Complaint Response can be found at www.alevelplayingfield.ca. In a nutshell, the case I brought on behalf of my daughter and all our softball players accurately states that the City provides significantly less capital and maintenance support to girls’ softball at Pemberton than it does to the predominantly boys’ baseball at both Hollywood Park and Hillside Park. We don’t begrudge the baseball program any of the support it gets. But the City’s failure to provide comparable support – from “skinning” the Pemberton infield and following through on other promised improvements – has denied our daughters not only a regulation softball field, but the opportunity for the same level of inter-community play, coaching and development that the boys enjoy in baseball. Quite regrettably, the City’s response to date can be boiled down to “the City is not preventing the girls from playing softball at Hollywood Park”(?!).
Since 2016, we have worked tirelessly to get the City to install a proper softball field for the girls at Pemberton. What they’ve provided is what you see today – it’s not a regulation field and it’s poorly designed. Our Beacon Hill girls are the only Association required to play on a non-regulation field, while our neighbors in the other 13 Girls Softball Associations have access to at least 30 regulation fields.
Four years of countless site meetings and emails with City staff and elected officials yielded nothing but inconsistent explanations and promises the City has never honoured. I have been able to document this in written communications with the City and through FOI requests. In February 2020, I reluctantly resigned from the Beacon Hill board to file the Complaint as a parent rather than as a board representative. The complaint is not against the Beacon Hill Baseball Softball Association or the boys’ baseball program. The Beacon Hill board has been very supportive of the girls’ softball program and the efforts to get a proper facility at Pemberton Park.
Victoria lawyer John S. Heaney has kindly volunteered to represent the girls at the Tribunal in this matter and will be assisted by U14 parent and lawyer Neil Marcovitz. Bill Hawkins, the President of SVI, has a wealth of knowledge and experience in these sorts of issues and is actively supporting us in this action.
Please feel free to email me at email@example.com with any questions or comments you have and to get regular updates as the case progresses. Please also let other softball families know and be sure to check our website where we will be providing more information in the coming weeks.