There has been a fair amount of discussion and controversy in the Ward 29 community of East York about proposed plans for Dieppe Park.
The three-hectare park, located on Cosburn Avenue near Greenwood Avenue. is more than just a green space.
It is a sports complex containing a baseball diamond, a soccer pitch, a multi-purpose sports field, a children’s playground with splash pad, and an outdoor artificial ice rink.
The problem lays in the fact that East York has historically been park space poor and as a result what space does exist is highly coveted by those who use it. Dieppe Park is by all accounts heavily used by many different groups, each with their own aims and priorities.
The fact is that despite this heavy use there has been a peaceful balance between the different groups and all have worked together to make the park a truly public space.
Unfortunately, this balance is on the verge of being undone due to some significant changes being proposed by Toronto Parks and Recreation.
The point of contention that is upsetting a number of community residents is a proposal to create an expanded soccer field with artificial turf that would be fenced and padlocked.
Use of the new soccer field would be by permit only, thus excluding it for general use by the local community.
As it stands right now the field is classified as “multi-purpose”, meaning that it is open for pickup games and general access by the public.
What it also means is that the publicly accessible area of the park would be reduced by nearly 50 per cent, putting further stress on a community that already lacks available park space.
More importantly, what green space that would be available would not be open areas, but islands of land interspersed between the different sports areas.
Now having said all that, there is merit in the idea of having an improved area for playing soccer as it is reported that the East York Soccer Club has a membership of some 2,000 youths aged from 4 to 18.
So there is obviously a need that needs to be met to have a good soccer field, but does it have to be made of artificial turf and be fenced and locked?
There has been a playing field at the Dieppe Park location for a year and it has been used in such a way as to balance the needs of the community with the needs of players.
Why, at this particular point in time, does the City of Toronto feel the need to upset that balance and put the East York community under such unneeded stress?
East York is a park poor area and the removal of such a large amount of green space will have a significant impact on the quality of life in that neighbourhood.
If you have an opinion and wish to express it please contact either Tony Nagy at firstname.lastname@example.org at City of Toronto, or Toronto-Danforth Councillor Mary Fragedakis at email@example.com