Mayor Rob Ford is a volunteer football coach, but hours on the gridiron failed to teach him one essential lesson: don’t take the field away from the players by proposing fees.
The GTA prides itself as a city that meets the needs of all its residents. Even though the fees were deferred until next year, this latest addition to the municipal budget threatens to turn parts of Toronto into places where only the well-to-do can enjoy most recreational activities.
More than a quarter of Scarborough’s population is made up of low-income families and another quarter consists of newcomers struggling to find their footing.
To save money on daycare, some families turn to volunteer groups who offer free activities. Some, in an effort to make sure their kids are off the streets, send their kids to free sports programs. This is possible because of free public sports fields.
The new user fees for these fields, which comes to $120 per child, will significantly change that.
Most volunteer sports organizations won’t be able to afford the increase, signifying the end of free lessons for many. Even some families who send their kids to private leagues that use the fields would be forced to pull their kids out from participating in the sports programs because of the increased cost.
I imagine almost all the kids who use the city’s sports fields find it enjoyable playing, learning, and growing up on them.
To take that away from them, especially without proper consultation, is abhorrent.
The projected $1.5 million revenue from the user fees will go to the city’s general revenue.
Now, with sports organizations and families unwilling to pay the new fees, I don’t see how Ford’s government will get that additional $1.5 million to balance its books.
Without another look at this fee, I envision the grim future of GTA’s sports fields: empty and lying wasted.