Save Cherry Beach

I should have blogged this post weeks ago, after the November 16 PLAC meeting where we discussed the Cherry Beach soccer fields.  I must say that this was not an easy issue for me to take a stand on.

It was first discussed at a PLAC meeting this summer, where the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation presented the plan, and it seemed, if not particularly inspiring, at least mostly harmless.  We were told that this was an area of scrub with an open toxic ditch in dire need of remediation and capping.  We were told it wasn’t being used at all.  Making it into temporary astroturf soccer fields would be a small step to satisfying the demand for sports fields in the city, and could be rethought later into a broader park vision.

I went to the November 16 PLAC meeting and felt I had been lied to.  Look at the Save Cherry Beach site to see a picture of the wasteland that was described.  There are hundreds of trees on the site, some more than 40 feet tall.  There is an open meadow that is currently enjoyed by butterfly enthusiasts.  Worst of all, it is apparent that the remediation plan was developed after the site had been identified as a potential sports field.  In other words, there was no concern about the toxicity until they thought about bulldozing it anyway.  Seems awfully convenient then, to discover it is in need of capping.  The truth is that by this reasoning the entire Portlands and much of Toronto might need to be covered over.

At the meeting, the effectiveness of capping was questioned, as no attempt has been made to identify the source of the toxic leakage, nor are there any plans to do so.  It was also pointed out that many of the trees might survive capping, if capping needed to be done at all.  This was countered by sports enthusiasts from around the city who came to argue for the necessity of sports fields, and to demand that sports fields be placed in beautiful environments.  I found it frankly insulting to hear accusations that people who wanted to save trees were somehow responsible for the obesity epidemic.

I support playing fields.  I don’t like the constant downgrading of land to more and more built form.  We have few enough trees in the city, and my skinny kids stay that way by climbing them.  So we need to find a place where soccer fields would be an enhancement of the environment, rather than a destruction.

The representative from Save Cherry Beach was a wonderful and articulate young man who was convinced at the meeting of the superiority of astroturf to grass.  It means fewer chemicals, no energy to mow, no watering.  It is environmentally the better option.  Which shows he’s a reasonable man.  But he still doesn’t like the location, and nor do I.  So I’ve signed the petition on the Save Cherry Beach site, and urge you to do the same.

One response to “Save Cherry Beach”

  1. Elena Jusenlijska writes:

    Oh good thing I found this comment before I went on to submit my briefing note about the Waterfront Revitalization project.

    The official site of the corporation ( does indeed leave one very confused. Absolutely no external scan has been done, which is no surprise. But how are people supposed to see both sides of the issue when the other side is largely underrepresented?

    Their official document of the soccer playing fields lists that public consultation has been important, but does not include to say that Portlands Action Committee has vital concerns over the proposed plans. Despite those, the date for construction is scheduled to be complete by spring 2007!

    Maybe someone could clarify for me, but are they justifying replacing the 500 something trees with new trees because the old trees are contaminated with lead?

    I love soccer. I play centre defence, though I’m not terribly good at it. But in this case I’m ready to stand in defence of the existing ecosystem! Is the solution really that black or white? We either have a soccer field on our waterfront or we don’t have one at all?

    I also find it ironic that the report for the field states one of the advantages is Storm Water Management. It then goes on to say that the ditch DOES currently provide the service, but an effective system will be installed by them. I am no expert on the issue, but is this saying they are essentially replacing what is already existing but not in a way that is convenient to them?

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