City cracking down on street hockey players in North Toronto neighbourhood

Street hockey, a rite of passage for Canadian kids, is being challenged in a North Toronto neighbourhood and parents are crying foul.

Dad of young hockey player says residents are 'going to take back our neighbourhood'

Nine-year-old Jake Ashcroft is upset that the city is asking him and his friends to remove their hockey and basketball nets from the edge of his street.

Street hockey, a rite of passage for Canadian kids, is being challenged in a North Toronto neighbourhood and parents are crying foul.

On Friday, nearly 20 homes on Esgore Drive, in the Wilson Avenue and Avenue Road area, were threatened with $90 fines from the city if they did not remove hockey and basketball nets from their street in the next 20 days.

Jacqueline White, the director of transportation services for North York, says the law is on the city's side.

A bylaw provided to CBC News states that "no person shall play or take part in any game or sport upon a roadway and, where there are sidewalks, no person upon roller-skates, in-line skates or a skateboard, or riding in or by means of any coaster, scooter, toy vehicle, toboggan, sleigh or similar device, shall go upon a roadway except for the purpose of crossing the road, and, when so crossing, such person shall have the rights and be subject to the obligations of a pedestrian."

The street, however, doesn't have sidewalks so the kids are placing their hockey and basketball nets on the boulevard or street. The city says that poses a safety issue and impedes traffic.

Safety issue for city

"It's a safety issue for the city, a liability issue," Coun. Christin Carmichael Greb, who represents Ward 16, told CBC.

Mark Ashcroft says residents are "taking back our neighbourhood and we're gonna do it one street at a time."

He says he will not remove the basketball net from the edge of Esgore, adding that "they're not gonna play if it's not on the street and that's where it's going to stay."

Ashcroft says there's a lack of green space in the area and "we need safe streets for the children."

Ashcroft's nine-year-old son Jake feels the city's coming down too hard on him and his friends.

"I don't think they should move (the nets) because they're not really affecting traffic," he told CBC News. "There are so many commercials on TV about how kids should be getting outside more.

Like most kids who play on the street, Ashcroft says he and his friends shout, 'Car!' when they see one and move before resuming play. He said speeders on Esgore Drive are the problem, not the kids playing pick-up.

Carmichael Greb empathizes with Mark Ashcroft, and admitted the area "is lacking in green space and parkland.

"We want to make sure that kids can play and be outside rather than sitting inside, but at the same time we have to respect and obey city bylaws but we want to come to a solution that works for everybody," she told CBC News.

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