Toronto

Mayor agrees to waive sports field user fees

Mayor Rob Ford has agreed that proposed permit fees to use city sports fields should be waived for 2012.

Implementation of permit fees deferred until 2013

Mayor Rob Ford has agreed that proposed permit fees to use city sports fields should be waived for 2012.

"This is a great victory for the kids of Toronto," Coun. Janet Davis said in a statement, issued Thursday night.

"I'm glad that the Mayor came to see that charging children high fees to play in sports leagues is simply wrong," she added.

Some sports leagues were surprised to learn they would be charged for the use of the outdoor sports fields. Previously, there was no charge.

Alan Waffle, the president of the Royal York Baseball Association, told councillors during a round of deputations at City Hall this week that his league wouldn't be able to afford to pay the $97,000 bill it received.

Coun. Sarah Doucette said she and Davis argued to the mayor that it wasn't reasonable to saddle volunteer-run organizations with stiff new fees and stress.

"One of my leagues got a bill for $24,000. They hadn't budgeted it for it, they hadn't added it to their registration fees," Doucette said. "This was a bill out of the blue."

A press release issued Thursday night from Davis's office said she and Doucette had emerged from a meeting with Ford with good news for volunteer sports leagues worried about budget constraints.

The councillors had submitted a motion to waive the new field permit fees for 2012, putting off implemention until 2013. The fees, which were included in the 2012 city budget, were expected to bring in $1.5 million in revenue.

Doucette told CBC News Thursday that convincing the mayor to change his mind on the fees plan took months, but that in the end, "the mayor supports sports, he supports getting kids out there, having fun, being healthy, getting away from TVs and computers and going out there and using our fields."

Ford also agreed to have consultations with the sports leagues for 2013 so the leagues can plan their budgets ahead for September and restructure their registration fees accordingly.