PEI

Facilities at Eric Johnston Field not up to snuff, says Summerside resident

A Summerside resident is raising concerns about a lack of parking and washroom facilities at Eric Johnston Field.

Soccer players got parking tickets during a game

Dean Stewart, whose daughter and son both play soccer at Eric Johnston Field, says a lack of parking and washroom facilities have been a consistent problem for patrons. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

A Summerside, P.E.I., resident is raising concerns about a lack of parking and washroom facilities at Eric Johnston Field. 

Dean Stewart, whose kids use the field to play multiple sports, says he complained to the city last year about the lack of parking, but recent incidents have him bringing up the issue again.

When he complained, he was told to park at Credit Union Place and walk over.

"You have to walk up a street with no sidewalks, young families, kids, grandparents. You have to cross Willow Avenue, which can get quite busy, just to watch your kids play sports," he said.

He says part of the problem is that when there are events at Credit Union Place, the parking lot may not have spots available, and even when there are spots open, there's no direct path to the field.

Summerside community services director J.P. Desrosiers said 20 parking spaces will be added to the existing parking lot in the next two to three weeks.

'Absolutely nowhere to park'

Stewart says about two weeks ago his son had a soccer game at the field. 

"There was absolutely nowhere to park. So he parked on the street [Willow Avenue] along with his coach and numerous other people, including myself," he said.

They built a beautiful washroom complex, but it's always locked and it's across the road in an unlit area so it's not accessible to the people that are using that field.— Dean Stewart

During the game, a police officer arrived and told people if they were parked on Willow Avenue they would be ticketed.

Stewart said he moved his car, but the people playing in the game — including his son  — got parking tickets.

"So he came home fairly upset," said Stewart.

He says he hasn't decided whether he is going to pay or challenge the ticket yet.

No washrooms

Another issue Stewart raised was the lack of sufficient washroom facilities.

"The whole facility is serviced by two porta-potties, and when you get smaller kids playing on that field there can be up to four games going on at a time," he said.

He says a washroom facility was built as part of the Canada Games in 2009.

If people are coming to visit Summerside and to go to a sporting event and come away with a parking ticket, I just don't think that's a very good look for Summerside.— Dean Stewart

"They built a beautiful washroom complex, but it's always locked and it's across the road in an unlit area so it's not accessible to the people that are using that field."

Desrosiers said teams can ask for a key to the washrooms, and that it is lit.

There may be other substantial upgrades coming, Desrosiers said, that can't be announced at this time.

Stewart says he travels around P.E.I. and the Maritimes quite often because his kids both play competitive sports, and these issues aren't a problem in other places.

"They all have washroom facilities, they all have change facilities and they all have parking facilities," he said.

What should be done?

Stewart says parking and washrooms are consistent points of conversation among parents when they gather at Eric Johnston Field.

Stewart says people used to be allowed to park on Willow Avenue, 'but even that wasn’t a great situation because there wasn’t enough parking spaces on one side ... to accommodate the numbers of people that are usually at the field.' (Google Maps)

"When you sit in the stands watching a game, these are the topics that come up, especially when you're sitting watching a soccer game and a police officer comes to the field and says 'Move your car or you're getting ticketed,'" he said.

"That just doesn't happen anywhere else."

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With files from Laura Chapin