Com­mit­tee’s turf re­stric­tions may be on shaky le­gal ground

PressReader - Tke Channel - Com­mit­tee’s turf re­stric­tions may be on shaky le­gal ground
Late-night soccer, foot­ball and baseball on all sports fields near homes could be scru­ti­nized by city hall in light of the con­tro­ver­sial turf field project at Im­mac­u­lata High School.In a 6-2 vote Tues­day, coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee ap­proved rare re­stric­tions on the re­cently built ar­ti­fi­cial turf field at Im­mac­u­lata, or­der­ing the lights to be turned off by 9 p.m. Sun­day through Thurs­day and by 10 p.m. on Fri­day and Satur­day. There is also a re­stric­tion on field ac­tiv­ity be­fore 9 a.m. on the week­end.Coun­cil­lors Jan Harder and Tim Tier­ney voted against the re­stric­tions at Im­mac­u­lata.City-run sports fields have a lights-off cur­few of 11 p.m.The Ot­tawa Catholic School Board, which part­nered with the Ot­tawa Footy Sevens to build the $2-mil­lion field, is in a good po­si­tion to chal­lenge the com­mit­tee’s de­ci­sion at the Lo­cal Plan­ning Ap­peal Tri­bunal. The city ’s own plan­ning lawyer con­ceded the city has an “up­hill bat­tle” de­fend­ing the de­ci­sion against an ap­peal.The Footy Sevens — a recre­ational soccer or­ga­ni­za­tion that paid for the con­struc­tion of the lighted ar­ti­fi­cial field to re­place the banged-up grass field — can col­lect rev­enue from rent­ing out the field in the evening, in ad­di­tion to run­ning its own leagues. The com­pressed op­er­at­ing win­dow could have a ma­jor im­pact on its deal with the school board.Chris Sur­geoner, co-owner and ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Footy Sevens, said the or­ga­ni­za­tion has made ef­forts to re­duce the im­pact to the com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing de­sign­ing a non-in­tru­sive light­ing sys­tem and us­ing lower-deci­bel elec­tronic whis­tles.The Footy Sevens or­ga­ni­za­tion has been pre­par­ing to start league play on the new gated field. If the soccer club knew there would be a “dras­tic uni­lat­eral cut” in op­er­at­ing hours spe­cific to the field at Im­mac­u­lata, it would have been a game-changer in mak­ing a deal with the school board, Sur­geoner said.“We would have never em­barked on the project or made the in­vest­ment,” he said.The school board thought it was a huge win-win for Im­mac­u­lata, which gained a great sports field and rub­ber­ized track for stu­dents, and the larger sport­ing com­mu­nity.Fred Chrys­tal, the school board’s su­per­in­ten­dent for plan­ning and fa­cil­i­ties, told coun­cil­lors that the school board was “con­sis­tently in­formed” by the city that it didn’t need a site-plan ap­pli­ca­tion for the ar­ti­fi­cial turf field.The city was wrong. Both the school board and the city didn’t know there was an ex­ist­ing site plan gov­ern­ing the field’s grass com­po­si­tion un­til some­one from the com­mu­nity found the 1993 doc­u­ment and brought it to the at­ten­tion of the city, whose plan­ners didn’t see it reg­is­tered in their com­puter sys­tem.Awk­wardly, the city had to kick­start a site-plan con­sul­ta­tion process as the ar­ti­fi­cial field was un­der con­struc­tion. The neigh­bour­ing com­mu­nity has for months crit­i­cized the school board for not hav­ing a proper con­sul­ta­tion.Joanne Los­tracco, who lives on nearby Glenora Street, lamented the “rad­i­cal change” that has come to her neigh­bour­hood. The field is within a few feet of peo­ple’s homes, she said.Im­mac­u­lata’s neigh­bours said they won’t stop push­ing for more mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures, which could in­clude sound bar­ri­ers.Cap­i­tal Coun. David Ch­er­nushenko said that he’ll bring an in­quiry to coun­cil on Wed­nes­day that will touch on op­er­at­ing hours for sports fields. He said he has re­ceived ques­tions from other com­mu­ni­ties in­ter­ested in sim­i­lar op­er­at­ing re­stric­tions for neigh­bour­ing fields.

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