March 25, 2019

Competing for playing field sparks bidding war

While the cost of revamping the playing field at Our Lady of Perpetual Help school (OLPH) has left the site in decline, a recent proposal by a community group to pay $250,000 to transform the field has locals wondering if they can devise a better plan and funds to back it.

“We’re trying to not just complain about something being proposed, but we’re actually proposing a positive alternative solution,” said Tim Costigan, president of Moore Park Residents Association, the organization leading the new proposal.

The original proposal, by the Rosedale-Moore Park Association (Mooredale), came about because of a lack of field space in the city.  Mooredale organizes several soccer teams but finds it hard to schedule playing and practice time.  

Lewis Reford, president of Mooredale, said he had been looking at options when he heard about OLPH. “We found each other and came up with this idea of partnership,” said Reford, referring to his early talks with the Catholic School Advisory Council (CSAC). 

The proposal was that, if over the next 10 years, Mooredale could reserve the field for evening and weekend practices, the group would cover the cost of refurbishing the land as a 60-yard AstroTurf soccer field.

Natalia Dukszta, president of CSAC, said she thought the proposal was wonderful: “I had been looking at all these options for the field, and it would have cost $20,000 just to put grass in.”

As plans progressed, a meeting was held May 18 to let neighbours know of the Mooredale proposal.

Dukszta said, to her surprise, many of the neighbours were concerned about the loss of the baseball diamond currently on the site, as well as the loss of public time on the OLPH field. Also, having a soccer field would mean an increase in traffic during game time and the potential for pickup soccer games all night long.

As these concerns came out at the meeting, Costigan, whose kids go to OLPH, stood up and suggested locals put together an alternative proposal. Currently, the alternative proposal has raised about $105,000. “We worked pretty hard,” he said.

The trustee responsible for OLPH, Catherine Leblanc-Miller, said the Toronto Catholic District School Board is considering both proposals. In the meantime, Reford said Mooredale is attempting to exhaust all other options. “You have to place your bets on different tables,” he said. “The thing we’ve come up against is there is basically no home field space available anywhere.”