Toronto

Fee increase could force baseball club off field

Young baseball players in Scarborough say a jump in fees charged by the city is threatening to price them off the field.

Costs per season expected to go from $4,800 now to about $37,000 by 2017

Young baseball players say a jump in fees charged by the city is threatening to price them off the field. 1:50

Young baseball players say a jump in fees charged by the city is threatening to price them off the field. 

The baseball diamonds at Neilson Park — home of the Scarborough Stingers baseball club — have been reclassified by officials, so fees to use them will go up in stages over the next two years. 

The fees will go from roughly $7 an hour to $48 an hour, city officials said. That's on top of the 10 per cent increase in recreation facility fees in the city budget proposed on Tuesday by Mayor John Tory. 

What once cost the team roughly $4,800 a season is expected to run about $37,000 per season by 2017.

"Is the city that broke where they need to levy a $32,000 tax on kids for our kids to play in a public park?" said Stingers president Greg Dennis.

Parents will go from paying $75 per child to almost $500, Dennis said, not including uniforms and equipment. 

"We will not be able to afford to  play in theses fields anymore. The rate is higher than anywhere else in the city for kids at the same competition level," he added. "They're forcing us off the field."

Scarborough-area city councillor Jim Karygiannis said he is already hearing from concerned parents.

"I realize we have to charge people to play, but to take the fees up astronomically like that, we're not doing anything but shutting teams out," Karygiannis said 

Residents can also raise their concerns during public meetings in February, the city said. 

With files from CBC's Natalie Kalata

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