Sports User Groups

Over the past four years, we have heard the expressed concerns from many sports enthusiasts and user groups. You have written to our website, called our Committee members, signed our petitions, shared your voice at the public meetings and sent in your letters.

Below are a few of these letters along with some excerpts from our Committee's report and presentations.

From: Lloyd Keller President BYSC (Burlington's Youth Soccer Club) and Concerned Citizen

After some reflection, I see the issue in two distinct lights. From a soccer club perspective, fields are very important and we are constantly at issue with the current inventory of fields in Burlington. As you know, the growth of our sport has placed significant demands upon the inventory of fields (most of which below Upper Middle Road had been built when Burlington was a much smaller community and soccer was not at the level of popularity as it is now).

There are two real issues with the current inventory. First, the number of fields do not allow for enough 'rest' or 'recovery' periods to allow the turf to regenerate after usage due to the high demand. As a result, most of our fields are in very poor condition with large areas being worn down to the soil. Ruts and mud sections make playing a possession and passing type game almost impossible due to the erratic movement of the ball over the field imperfections.

Secondly, as the fields also provide a venue for our high school athletic programs, early April games frequently are held when the fields are saturated from rainwater. This again, destroys the turf structure as the fields should not be played on when the soil structure is saturated. The damage in one or two games makes play during the whole season substandard due to poor field surface conditions caused by the early play.

On another note, when you take a look at 'Google Earth' showing our fields in the areas south of Fairview Street and between Appleby Line and Guelph Line, it is apparent that the Brock Fields are the only soccer fields in the tract south of New Street. What is of significant concern is the complete lack of any soccer facilities outside of Brock that would allow for neighbourhood play and practice.

Any intent towards a 'South of New Street' neighbourhood soccer match or practice can only be held at Brock. New Street is a natural barrier for young children to safely venture past. This is a significant concern as the loss would take away from a natural childhood need for exercise and play at one of our countries and the worlds' most popular sports.

I applaud your crusade to maintain the facilities that are part of the Brock lands. When I look at the Google Map photo, I cannot help but also notice how many of the other facilities and fields are in fact part of the school board lands. With the current focus of the board to sell off older school properties in order to pay for new schools in developing subdivisions in the north of Burlington, are we note going to see this scenario continue to play over and over again? I don't pretend to understand the whole issue relating to cost sharing between city and province on this. There does, however, seem to be a short sighted view as to the overall social implications of depleting the play and greenspace facilities in mature neighborhoods.

Some excerpts from the General Brock Parkland Committee presentation to council:

The City of Burlington's strategic plan along with a number of Parks and Recreation reports clearly identifies the importance of providing a variety of services, facilities and infrastructure to promote a safe, healthy and active community.

The Parks & Rec Dept's proposed Business strategy report before you this evening states that this department "will utilize a community development approach to leisure services by which community residents are encouraged and assisted in identifying and taking action in response to their leisure needs". The General Brock Parkland Committee is certainly following this direction as we have identified the need and are taking action to strive to preserve the GB lands for the benefit of various park users.

The Mayors recent message in the "Perspective Burlington" speaks of facilitating containable growth by protecting those elements of our community that are important to our residents. The General Brock park is a key element within our community that we certainly would like to protect. We believe the park is vital as it supports the needs of various sports groups and passive users.

We believe the loss of playing fields and open space that GB offers would be irresponsible and short sited. By preserving Brock, you are effectively accommodating as many existing & potential user groups as possible by maintaining baseball soccer, football, running track and passive green space.

The report presented to this Committee in 2003 regarding the "Strategic Long-term Soccer Needs" clearly outlined the various issues pertaining to the shortfalls in sports fields in this city. Eliminating these opportunities at this location would result in further demands being placed on other playing fields. Roughly 800 adult and 100 youth sports participants would be forced to have to find alternate facilities in other wards.

The staff report indicates plans to introduce additional soccer fields in 2006, all of which are a significant distance from the playing fields now available at Brock. As President of the Burlington Women's Soccer League, my club has not been notified of these plans and our members do not agree that these additions will compensate for a loss in the playing fields at Brock (particularly when 2 of the proposed fields are only Intermediate in size).

Even with the facilities available at Brock, my club has experienced first hand the challenges associated with insufficient playing fields in Burlington. This year, one of our teams was forced to play in Hamilton for the entire season! Both the Burlington Women's & Burlington Ladies clubs have not been able to grow in recent years in large part due to the lack of fields available in the community.

We also believe it is important to note that while the proposed "New City Park" will no doubt be a welcomed opportunity for the citizens of Burlington and this committee supports this and any initiative to introduce recreational opportunities and support parkland preservation, it is not yet approved for implementation. We understand that some of the next steps include approval from the NEC and this could certainly result in a delay in field opportunities for a few years to come. Or, worse case scenario, what if the New City Park does not get approval from the NEC or it places restrictions limiting the proposed sports fields? We suggest it would be more strategic and responsible to secure the well used fields at General Brock Park .The proposed addition of 5 playing fields in the north end of the city (where many residents in the south already have to travel to in order to play), will not compensate for the loss of 2 adult sports fields (soccer / foot ball/ ultimate Frisbee), 1 youth soccer field, and one youth and one adult ball diamond presently offered at Brock. GB can continue to provide terrific opportunities for area residents.

Without a Community, City or Neighbourhood park within the vicinity, these parklands can only grow in their popularity and significance as we experience and expect even greater infill intensification throughout the city. The potential the area has to offer is exciting. Listening to the suggestions of area residents over the past few years has generated additional ideas for opportunity at this central location.

The addition of a playground to support the interests of the families with young children moving into the area; some further naturalization of areas in the park to beautify, provide habitat and for the enjoyment of walkers; a leash free area to recognize the needs of the many dog owners while respecting those using the sports fields. Many seniors live adjacent to the park, in Marantha homes as well as the townhomes. What a wonderful opportunity to provide beautiful, accessible green space for their leisure and enjoyment.

Again, while these are not considered necessary requirements for the park, they do offer potentials that would further support the city's dedication to enhancing the open spaces and parklands to better serve the residents of Burlington.

The Parks and Rec Business Strategy is aligned with Future focus 6, with 3 fundamental goals.

  • Be responsive to the changing needs of the Burlington Community

  • Enhance and sustain the City's parks, open space, recreation and cultural assets

  • In order to meet these objectives the city requires green space, parkland, open spaces so that residents can engage in active living

This document speaks to environmental stewardship and open space and the importance of having parks that are accessible to the community for active or passive leisure activity.

We do not believe that the report submitted by staff, supports these strategies as they pertain to Brock. Our Committee supports these goals set out by the city, and hope that the process and considerations to address this issue better reflect these goals.

People from the nearby community along with residents from other parts of the city have enjoyed these lands for many years, continue to do so and we expect as the city continues to grow and develop….will be of even greater demand in the years to come.

The City supports a significant number of sports user groups, many of which have enjoyed the playing fields that have been available for years at General Brock.

It appears that the city may be lacking vision and effective short and long term planning as it pertains to sports field supply. While the demand for facilities is on the rise, and the city is exploring for and planning on some additional opportunities, here at Brock, we have established playing fields. They are situated in a convenient location, ready to use, and recognized by city wide users and yet... the city is considering taking a pass at preserving them? This Committee and the various users we have communicated with believe this would be a mistake.

I think we all recognize that once these fields are gone, there is no turning back. The expectation for recreationalists of all types to have to get into their vehicles and drive to more distant locations to get exercise seems to be a contradiction. Common sense implies that the more accessible you provide an opportunity, the greater likelihood it will be used.

Another benefit of the General Brock sports fields is that they do not require funds for development as is the case for implementation of new facilities. We understand and appreciate that the city attains a preferred standard of quality facilities and associated amenities for it’s parks, however some of the feedback we frequently hear from users pertains to their enjoyment of the "natural", "less developed" environment, the GB park has to offer. If future demand suggests a need for enhancement and/or additional service opportunities, then perhaps we could look at the user groups funding to support these needs.

Our committee has heard from a variety of user groups over the past years who have expressed their concern over the potential loss of playing fields at Brock. The City was made aware of the potential loss of these fields back in 2000. It is our hope that user group representatives & players in the audience today, will voice your needs and concerns and that the city will listen and work directly with the groups to look at ways the playing fields at Brock can be secured forever. Sports groups - ask yourselves how you can take steps to support this need through potential surcharges, user fees, partnerships and sponsorships - please come to the table with your support and dedicated interest.

"I support keeping this as Brock Park retaining the sports fields as the only large fields in this area used by teams with players residing in all parts of Burlington."

(public opinions page)