[attach]6279[/attach]A turf maintenance project scheduled for [url=http://www.mytowncrier.ca/parks-field-to-be-renewed-thanks-to-mayors-help.html]Memorial Park’s sports field[/url] has raised questions about how the Parks budget is being spent.
Karen Stintz, councillor for Eglinton-Lawrence, suggested the money could be put to better use elsewhere.
“I think it should have been spent on Eglinton Park, because Eglinton Park is actually a city field and it’s very heavily used and needs the investment,” she said. “But it’s going to Memorial.”
Stintz, along with school board and parks department reps, was summoned by Mayor Rob Ford for a site visit to the Toronto District School Board-owned Memorial Park field on June 22.
Concerns about the field’s conditions were raised with the mayor by local football coach Ron Singer, who also attended the site visit.
Singer is a former Ward 15 council candidate who has worked with Ford in football programs.
“It was frustrating to be called out on Friday afternoon, because Ron Singer wants to use it for football, and then the mayor makes a commitment on behalf of our city to spend city money on a school field so it can be used for football, when it’s largely permitted for soccer,” Stintz said.
An aide in the mayor’s office said Ford visited the park with staff in response to residents’ concerns about the condition of the field.
Parks general manager Jim Hart said he couldn’t comment specifically on Eglinton Park but the parks department is currently looking to bring up to snuff all city-maintained fields.
“My view is that every field we have is pressing, and if it’s simply a matter of top dressing and overseeding a field which is natural anyway, we should be doing that with every one of our fields with routine maintenance,” Hart said.
The condition of the city’s outdoor fields was recently a source of controversy at city hall after a new field user fee for children and youth leagues was introduced in the 2012 budget.
After pushback from the leagues, council voted to reduce the user fee and delay its introduction until 2013, with a directive to the parks department to implement a sweeping field improvement plan.
As part of that plan, Hart said the parks department is currently reviewing all agreements involving shared-use fields. They will be reporting to council in 2013.