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East York soccer field subject of major battle over hours of use

Click to play video 'Toronto Catholic school board disputing councillor, residents over hours at soccer stadium' Toronto Catholic school board disputing councillor, residents over hours at soccer stadium
WATCH ABOVE: Residents say they're tired of the noise and lights at the St. Patrick C.S.S. soccer field. Mark Carcasole reports – Jun 14, 2018

Not even a full year since its opening, the soccer field at St. Patrick Catholic Secondary School near Danforth and Greenwood avenues is the subject of a local dispute.

At a public meeting earlier this week, local residents, many of whom have backyards adjacent to the field, raised several issues with their city councillor and officials with the Toronto Catholic District School Board. They said the problem isn’t the students who use the field for gym class or after-school games, it’s the minor and adult leagues who use it later in the day.

“The noise is incredible … especially being summer,” said Diana Barrett, a resident of a nearby senior’s residence. Her unit faces the field.

“You can’t leave the windows open.”

Noise was just one of the concerns brought to the board’s attention, along with large lights residents said shine into their homes during games in the evening and night as well as errant soccer balls that fly over the high fences and into their backyards.

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Among the solutions proposed to the TCDSB is a limit on how late they permit the field out for play.

“They ran the gamut from no permits after 7 or 9, and then 10 p.m. They’ve been all over the map,” said TCDSB spokesperson John Yan, who was visibly frustrated.

“We’re trying to get a sense of what they really want.”

READ MORE: Calgary man says he’ll pay city $10,000 to move noisy basketball court

The frustration comes from what Yan said is a long, running battle over this pitch. He said residents have opposed it since before it was even approved and that they are now using any method they can to continue the fight.

With Toronto now one of the approved venues for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, soccer is expected to boom in this city. Yan said scaling back on the availability of fields like the one at St. Patrick school will further strain practice and play time for local soccer clubs.

“Youth soccer is huge, so they’ll have to compete with the adult leagues because we will have to cut back by 50 per cent the prime time permit hours — that’s a lot.”

The school board said it has done everything it can to address the concerns of local residents. Those measures include moving benches over to the school side of the field, asking parties permitted to use the field to make sure spectators don’t cheer too loudly.

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The TCDSB said regular referees’ whistles have been replaced with a special electronic whistle that is muted with tape and set to the lowest volume level.

Given how close it is to its neighbours, Councillor Paula Fletcher said she hopes the board will compromise and stop permitting the pitch for use by pickup groups and soccer leagues after 9 p.m.

“The 9 to 11 p.m. time slot is driving everybody here crazy,” said Fletcher.

“They can’t put their kids to bed. The F-bomb is dropped more than the ball.”

For now the matter is at a stalemate. The field hasn’t breached any noise bylaws. But if it does, the City of Toronto can take action.

Fletcher said several residents are keeping logs of the noise and other disturbances and plan to report any major disruptions to the Municipal Licensing and Standards department.