Halifax Common changes could mean less baseball, softball
City is looking at removing 5 of 8 baseball fields, replacing them with leisure areas
The Halifax Regional Municipality is considering removing five of the eight baseball diamonds at the Halifax Common as part of a move to create more multi-use spaces for unstructured leisure activities.
Bob Carter is the president of Halifax Minor Baseball. He recently met with the city about changes to fields, but was under the impression Gorsebrook would be the only affected field.
"We met with them at the field, they walked us through with the maps and the blueprints, and showed us what they're going to do," he told CBC's Information Morning. "And then suddenly, they're talking about closing five fields."
Carter said fewer fields will have a major impact.
"Not just us as the youth league, but on the adult leagues as well," he said.
Carter said the youth league currently holds the largest annual player tournament in Atlantic Canada, hosting 26 teams on the Halifax Common. He's concerned they would lose the tournament due to limited space elsewhere in the city.
He's also concerned adult leagues would get priority access over the limited field space, reducing the number of children able to participate.
Carter said losing one night of fields a week would mean the league would have to go from 700 to 500 kids.
"As it is now, we have kids we can't take because we can't get enough field access," he said.
Lighting fields could provide more options
Carter said he's asked the city repeatedly for more lit fields, which would extend playing hours.
"These are fields that are relatively isolated from homeowners and could easily have a set of lights put up, and you could then play a second game," he said.
Field lights are generally on timers, eliminating concern about noise and light past a certain hour.
Carter said he has contacted the city with his concerns and has been offered a meeting to discuss the proposal.
District 7 Coun. Waye Mason recently published his own reaction to the proposal on his personal blog.
"The park is balanced toward active use, and we did hear from a lot of the public that they wanted more, kind of passive space for unstructured play," Mason told CBC.
"And so the idea of creating a great lawn on the North Common was a response to that. The flip side is, we already have a shortage of playing spaces of high quality on the peninsula, and I'm not sure where we could build new playing spaces."
Mason suggested adding a field complex elsewhere in the redevelopment of the North End, but he acknowledged a project like that could be decades away.
"In the meantime, I don't think we can close fields on the Common until those replacements were in place," he said.
In the short term, Mason also recommended lighting fields, which he said for scheduling purposes are considered the equivalent of 1½ unlit fields.
Public input on the Halifax Common Master Plan can be submitted at engagement sessions held around the city or anonymously on the municipality's website.
With files from CBC's Information Morning