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Dome over Central Tech field would be detrimental to community: councillor

Watch the video above: Councillor says dome over playing field will privatize a public benefit. Peter Kim reports.

TORONTO – Downtown Toronto councillor Adam Vaughan is opposing a plan to build a $6 million sports dome on top of Central Tech’s playing field.

It’s transferring public space to the private-sector, he said.

“Right now it’s a field of grass that you can kick a ball around with your friends, or you can set up your own soccer game, or you can learn to ride your bike around the track,” he said. “If it becomes a private sector operated sports facility, that green space will be lost to the community. And it will have a huge impact on the beauty of the school. It’s a heritage building.”

The dome would cover the field of Central tech from November to April and allow students a way of using the field during the winter – for a fee.

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But Vaughan also worries about the aesthetic impact of a huge white dome outside of a city heritage building.

“To put all that parking and traffic into the neighbourhood, to lose the green space, to lose the vista of that beautiful heritage building, all of these things are detrimental to the neighbourhood,” he said.

While school Principal Sheryl Freeman says she doesn’t disagree with Vaughan about the beauty of the heritage building, she does think that the school needs to grow with the community.

“The building has to be sustainable. The community has to have sustainable kinds of facilities,” she said. “This is an opportunity to maintain the historic and proud history of our school and to have an eye to our future.”

The dome would cost approximately $6 million and include the dome, a new turf, track and change rooms.

The dome would be managed by Razor Management though the school would have use of the field during the school day. At night, the community and sports leagues can use the field for a yet-to-be-decided fee.

“We at the TDSB would never be able to afford a state of the art, multi-million dollar facility like we’re getting,” TDSB spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz said.

The school would not be paying for the facility. Instead, the management company would build it and try to recoup costs by charging the surrounding community for its use.

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While Vaughan contends that the local community can use the field now for free, Schwartz-Maltz says all organizations pay the school board to use the field.

Freeman says the dome can place an added emphasis on physical activity in the school community. The field won’t just be used by the football, rugby or track team but instead by everyone, all-year round.

“But think of what it also does for the health and physical education opportunities for all of our students,” she said. “So it provides year-round access and much easier access to emphasis on fitness for all of our school community.”

The two sides are expected to meet for a community meeting about the dome Thursday night.

With files from Peter Kim

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