Youth field fees to be phased in

Two-year process will see groups paying between $2-6 an hour to use city facilities

Children and youth sports leagues have been granted further respite after council voted for a phase-in of new sports field fees over two years.

Starting in 2013, youth leagues will be charged between $1 and $3 an hour to use outdoor rec fields in Toronto. The rate, which varies depending on type of field, will then be hiked $2–6 the following year.

The rate is a significant drop from what was originally introduced in the 2012 council budget. After sports organizations cried foul, council agreed to waive the fee for 2012 altogether.

Staff came back to the table for a revised fee for 2013, and a plan to upgrade the quality of the outdoor fields.

Still, lacrosse, baseball and soccer organizations said charging a fee before implementing necessary field and turf improvements was essentially putting the cart before the horse. Many leagues already invest their own money in field maintenance the city doesn’t have the resources to do.

“They really have resisted paying fees because they really don’t believe, or they are skeptical about whether the city will actually deliver,” said councillor Janet Davis, who introduced the phase-in motion.

Davis called it a good compromise, as it will give more time to ensure fields are upgraded before sports leagues get hit with fees, and it will give council time to revisit the user fee policy.

Before the vote, councillor Norm Kelly unsuccessfully urged councillors not to delay the fee hit.

“If you phase-in the increases over two years, you delay the repair and maintenance of these fields,” Kelly said. “If you’re that concerned about the quality of the product that we offer these various sporting communities, then please have the courage to implement the fees next year.

“You’re not shortchanging anybody,” he added.

In a June report, Parks staff estimated their revised user fee ($2-6) would bring in $850,000 in 2013, which would in turn be dedicated to field and turf work.

About this article:

By: Karolyn Coorsh
Posted: Jul 13 2012 4:45 pm
Filed in: Sports
Edition: Toronto