Kitchener-Waterloo

New ball diamonds in Guelph may be unsafe for adult leagues, says city

A slight dip in the ground between two brand new ball diamonds in Guelph's Lyon Park is a safety concern according to the city.

City notes there have been no injuries or complaints, but the dip does pose a safety concern

Teams from the Guelph Ladies Softball league play on a diamond at Lyon Park in Guelph earlier this summer. The newly built diamonds reopened earlier this year after being under construction in 2016. Now, the city says a dip between the north and south diamonds poses a potential safety risk to adult ball players and adult leagues have been moved to other diamonds in the city. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

A slight dip in the ground between two brand new ball diamonds in Guelph is meant to provide drainage, but it could be a potential hazard to ball players.

Last summer, the ball diamonds at Lyon Park on York Road were reconfigured so they faced each other. A small dip — or swale — was put in-between the two diamonds to help with drainage.

Heather Flaherty, general manager for the city's parks and recreation department, said the swale is "very mild." Yet concerns have been raised about the safety of the dip, which will be the focus of a meeting with adult leagues in the off-season.

"It's important to note that no complaints or injuries have been documented on the site by any user group to the city, and with less than two weeks remaining in the season, we will honour all the bookings we've made for the remaining 2017 dates," Flaherty said in an email to CBC News.
This is the redesign of Lyon Park in Guelph. There is a slight dip, or swale, between the north and south ball diamonds, which the city says poses a potential safety concern for adult ball leagues. (City of Guelph)

'A little ridiculous'

One of the leagues affected is the Guelph Ladies Softball league, which was told Aug. 21 it had to move off the diamonds. The city said staff started to try to reschedule games, but after further consultation, decided to keep all games at Lyon Park as scheduled for this season.

League executive member Britt Cobean said the south diamond is used every night by adult leagues.

"Our league has played at Lyons for years and would like to continue to do so," Cobean said, noting there weren't any alternative diamonds the league could use during the construction in 2016 and the league moved many of its games to Rockwood.

"I honestly think it's a little ridiculous and should have been assessed at the beginning of the season not at the end."

She added the city should also reconsider preventing adult leagues from using the diamonds. 

"We have never had issues with the ditch as we do not hit as far as the men," Cobean said. "They should really be assessing the teams that are having issues with this and finding it unsafe."

Teams will use new diamonds next summer

The diamonds were rebuilt during work to widen Waterworks Place, a road which runs alongside the park which is still under construction. Previously, the diamonds extended beyond the park's property lines, Flaherty said.

The new diamonds just opened earlier this year. The cost to put in the new softball diamonds, grass, irrigation, paths and lights was $1.3 million. The park also has an outdoor pool and playground.

When asked how many adult leagues use the diamonds, Flaherty said there is a "mix of users."

"With the Eramosa River Park and York Road baseball diamonds being ready for spring 2018, we don't expect any issues accommodating everyone for next season," she said, noting there will be a meeting this fall with ball leagues to discuss the future use of Lyon Park and new locations for teams.

"At this point, the city has not made any decisions regarding adult leagues playing at Lyon Park in future."


A CBC journalist involved in the creation of this story is also a member of one of the adult softball leagues that previously used the diamonds. Journalistic content on CBC Radio and CBC Digital is guided by CBC's Journalistic Standards and Practices and guidelines, which are available for the public to view here.

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story said adult leagues have been moved off Lyon Park diamonds for safety concerns. City staff say while initially, that was the plan, adult leagues have been told they can finish their seasons on the ball diamonds at Lyon Park.
    Aug 29, 2017 11:15 AM ET

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