Toronto school's field a muddy mess despite parents raising $100K

Parents at one Toronto school raised $100,000 for a brand new playing field, but for the first months of class students will be stuck with a fenced-off swath of dirt.

TDSB says turf field construction back on track and will be complete by October's end

Earl Beatty Junior and Senior Public School was supposed to have a brand new field this September. Instead, this is what students arrived at their school to find. (John Rieti/CBC)

Parents at one Toronto school raised $100,000 for a brand new playing field, but for the first months of class students will be stuck with a fenced-off swath of dirt.

Children at Earl Beatty Junior and Senior Public School, on Woodington Avenue near Danforth Avenue and Coxwell Avenue, are now relying on outdoor spaces in front and to the sides of their brick building. The school told parents in an email this week that the new artificial turf field won't be ready until the end of October.

"It's frustrating," said Jamie Maracle, as she waited to pick her son up from his third day of Grade 2.

"The kids have nowhere to go. This is it."

Parents held a number of fundraisers to raise money for the new field and track. (John Rieti/CBC)

From fun fairs to movie nights to selling bracelets, the school community worked hard to make its fundraising goal and everything appeared to be going well when students left for summer vacation.

At the school, construction fences went up in July, but despite heavy machinery sitting on the lot, work on the new field didn't begin until mid-August. As of last week, all of the grass has been torn up and the area remains off-limits.

Leon Kiriliuk, who has two kids at the school, says he's concerned the slowdown means his kids won't be able to compete in fall cross-country running races.

"What was happening all of June, July and half of August?" he asked.

"Why the delay?"

TDSB blames it on the rain

The construction work is set to keep going until the end of October, according to a memo sent to parents. (John Rieti/CBC)

Toronto District School Board spokesperson Ryan Bird says the rainy summer is to blame, however the contractor working on the project has now provided an assurance that the field will be done by the end of October.

"We do know that they are working hard to complete this, because everyone knows that [Earl Beatty students] need their field — and they need it now."

Kiriliuk also questions why the school, which communicated frequently with parents during the fundraising drive, has been so quiet about the slow construction.

Bird says some parents were informed of the risk at a June meeting about the construction.

Earl Beatty has been working to replace its old, torn-up field for years, posting two reports about its poor condition on its website. 

"Sports field had a high level of wear and was mostly devoid of vegetation," one of the reports notes, adding only 15-20 per cent still had grass. Further, the field lacks a drainage system and soil erosion is winding up in nearby catch basins, the report says. 

The report noted the school's field gets "extreme intensity of use," and at 14,517 square feet it's expected to cost some $261,306 to install turf.

About the Author

John Rieti

John Rieti covers city hall and city issues for CBC Toronto. Born and raised in Newfoundland, John has worked in CBC newsrooms across the country in search of great stories. Outside of work, catch him running or cycling around, often armed with a camera, always in search of excellent coffee.


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