Kimberly Spice –
As the population of Downtown Toronto grows the numbers of soccer clubs is also on the rise but finding field times that accommodate everyone is few and far between.
Allocation to soccer fields by city is based on the time a club has been in existence as well as the number and ages of participants.
City parks spokesman John Gosgnach said that there is no waiting list for field use but staff is aware of the needs of the community.
“We don’t establish a waiting list but we know what people’s allocations are and my staff have personal relationships with all these organizations, whether it’s the president or the treasurer,” Gosgnach told The Bulletin. “Come permit time and hopefully communicating with them either via the phone or in person or the internet, we are constantly knowing about their growing or lessening needs to perspective space.”
John Hendriks, Cherry Beach Soccer Club president, has been trying for a more desired field time for his organization but has described his predicament as a catch-22. To obtain a more reasonable time he needs to have an increase in participants but the current times his organization can play is preventing players from joining his league.
“The allocation formula is based on subscribers so how do you get subscribers if you don’t get fields?” commented Hendriks. “So it doesn’t work. It works for existing clubs as their membership goes up. They are entitled for more field time. How do you start from scratch?”
The allocation method is not going to change any time soon. With a growing population alternative methods need to be looked at. If a community sees the need to change an underutilized ball diamond into a soccer field for example, they can call the parks department or their local councillor. But in the end, depending on the area, the result may not be a new soccer field but a dog park.
“They can contact anybody in the [division],” Gosgnach commented. “It’s usually park staff first because it’s their facility making the definitive decisions on reconfiguring space and maybe there is a better demand for space. There is still a huge pressure from the dog owners … for off-leash spaces and that puts incredible pressure on parkland space usage and much to the chagrin of communities they lose a baseball diamond because of a demand for an off-leash area is stronger and maybe more viable than other things.”
Information about allocation rules can be found at www.toronto.ca.