Monday, June 25, 2012

Soccer Spin 101: New City Park renamed 'CITY VIEW' Park formally 'LAUNCHES' on Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Mayor Rick Goldring addresses the massive crowd..
The GRAND OPENING of 'City View Park' -  formerly known as New City Park - launched on Saturday at 11am.   I admit I was expecting THOUSANDS of downtown soccer enthusiasts yelling, screaming, doing a 'plastic grass' victory dance. ... No such luck.

The City of Burlington website had been pumping the event for at least two weeks, inviting all and sundry. The opening was also advertised in the Burlington Post. The press were there, primed & ready. Tim Hortons' even pitched in as the kick-off sponsor offering FREE coffee and Timbits. All in all, set & ready to roll. But aside from the opening-exhibition game players, their coaches & parents, few turned up. How come?

Councillor Paul Sharman had an interesting theory. He was extrapolating on the reasoning for the continued use of plastic grass affording a longer play season etc, when he suddenly admitted "but we're over-capacity". He continued, 'We have more soccer fields then we know what to do with'. Dumbfounded, I listened.

Mr. Sharman, how does this make any fiscal sense? WHY build MORE soccer fields when the City already has a super-abundance? I suppose though that you are, in part, to blame for this, in that you were very actively involved in MOVING the Pan Am Games soccer event of 2015 up here to this "remote" location, instead of letting the Games play out in the fully serviced & available facility in YOUR downtown neighbourhood at Sherwood Forest Park. As I recall YOUR vocal citizen group was concerned about the noise, the parking, the glaring stadium lights & the generally reduced quality of life for adjacent residents. So, using political logic, yes, BUILD MORE (when they're not really needed) ELSEWHERE ...

Anyway, in total, there were less then 40 enthusiasts to hear the Mayor & other polished politicos spout their predictable platitudes of 'jewel of the escarpment', 'an amazing sport venue' etc. At least one third of those in attendance were City employees, with their supporters, who clearly have a vested interest in seeing this 'Centre of Sport Excellence' (or whatever they're spinning it as these days) reach full potential. To wit, Mike Wallace was there. Sure, there was a token gesture towards the Bruce Trail Association, but tellingly, this bells & whistles **MEGA OPENING Invitational** was not listed on either the Bruce Trail or Bruce Trail Iroquois Club websites. ... Obviously a 'public relations' oversight ...

None of this dampened the opportunity for what politicians do best - grandstanding & preening for the photo-op. The City staff photographer complied as best he could, finding soccer ball props and directing the Group shot of City officials, soon to appear in the City of Burlington's City Talk newsletter no doubt.

( Parks & Recreation acting Director, Chris Glenn, with the Mayor, (upper right) Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven* at the podium (lower left) , City Staff Photographer, (lower centre) and the Group Shot: Mayor Goldring, Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster, Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman - the Bruce Trial token spokesman - Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven & Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor. Notably absent: Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison & 
Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward.)

So, got it. The emphasis in this park is NOT the globally unique Escarpment itself - as it SHOULD be - but rather, the focus is on the soccer ... And WHERE, some may ask, is the 1500-seat soccer stadium going to go? See that liviing field below? Lovely 'as is', isn't it? well, forget THAT.  Who knows what the stadium will actually LOOK like. There has been NO 'public consultations' about that either. The Niagara Escarpment Commission has already given City the permit to install the third plastic grass carpet here with the unseen stadium. Somewhat ironic, considering that taxpayers, who ARE the PUBLIC, are ultimately footing this grandiose 'unseen stadium' bill.

I suppose the IDEA is to give the seated 2015 Pan Am Game promoters & spectators the opportunity to soak up the five star City View' from their elevated & privileged-access positions when they become bored watching the youthful game play far below ... And I suppose the stadium DESIGN for 1500 will try to do everything it can to mitigate the carbon offset of those plastic grass 'heat islands' . Maybe the designers will use expensive passive solar stadium cooling or some such?  Who knows. One thing is certain, this unique & timeless Niagara Escarpment landscape has changed for good. And not, in my humble 'local-yocal' opinion, for the better. 
  City View Park 'view'  
If there is one thing I have learned from this whole sorry affair - of putting padlocked fenced-in plastic grass carpets into an UNESCO World BIO-sphere - it's that City is just not listening. If they were, they would have HEARD  over 300 voices who OPPOSED the use of plastic grass in this natural parkland area. (via the Care2 petition, my Facebook page & the Environmental Review Tribunal of October 2010). Instead, they have selectively listened to the alluring trill of tinkling loonies, aggressive lawyers, PanAm promoters & the "30 people"  from Ward 1*, who all want to impose their GRAND DESIGN of a suburban tournament-level FIFA soccer facility onto this timeless landscape. - HELLO???  We - the people of Burlington, who live, work, play & pay taxes here - would prefer a NATURAL park - for recreational sport use in an un-fenced OPEN family-friendly living green space - as per the ORIGINAL park plan of 2009. Hello?

What has been lost with this fenced-in 'plastic grass' is the timeless rejuvenating GIFT this Living Earth place once offered us all: an opportunity to joyfully interact with this marvelous & majestic open natural environment. Now, we're just expected to play on the fenced-in plastic, follow the signs, and stay on the park-paved sidewalks or tended paths ....

At this point, for those who do genuinely love & RESPECT Nature's wonderful insights & pleasures, I can only suggest you do visit City View Park as soon as you can, before the soccer stadium completely dominates what little 'wild life' is left of this now-struggling "nature" preserve.  Building will commence in 2013 or early 2014. Seek solace where you can. Joni got it right.

One final thought, one wonders why City would name the park 'City View Park', when two parks with the same name already exist within a stone's throw in Southern Ontario. One is in Mississauga and the other is in Brantford. Both these parks are somewhat lifeless suburban community parks surrounded by cookie-cutter housing developments that offer one tired baseball diamond and a few run-down tennis courts. ah well.  Birds of a Feather and all that. Welcome to, um, BURLINGTON's largest Niagara Escarpment park: Where GREEN & SUSTAINABLE GROWTH really means 'We be Avid Supporters of Non-biodegradable Life-denying PLASTIC!

Why doesn't City just cut to the chase and call it 'PHOTO-OP PARK' - ?  If this GRAND OPENING was any indication of things to come, expect a LOT more 'Big Shot' Photo-Pooping & Scooping.

'City View Parks' in Brantford & Mississauga. 

*Officially, 'City View Park' is in Ward 1, even though those in Ward 3 in Burlington & Ward 15 of Hamilton - both ON TOP of the Escarpment - 
will be most affected by this Niagara Escarpment 'development'.

... stay tuned ...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great review Lindsay. Very well put. You are well aware of my opinion on this. We as a City are very slow learners, and will have to live with this. Paridise lost? I think so. I was so thrilled while out on my nightly BT walk to hear the screams of the adoring soccer fans wafting over the escarpment. Yikes! GG

Canadada said...

Thank YOU Guy. Yes, it is a great shame that this potentially FANTASTIC Niagara Escarpment parkland area has been split into two 'cultures'. Naturalists (and the wandering foraging nesting wildlife), who have long appreciated the area for what it is, will just have to adapt.

Let's hope that the newly arrived soccer enthusiasts & their loud supporters also come to appreciate SOMEDAY what they themselves are slowly wiping out. Sadly, the pending erection of the 1500-seat stadium kinda seals the deal ...

There is also the on-going ISSUE of the Environmental Impact Assessment. It was done in April 2010, before the actual component parts of artificial turf were IDENTIFIED at the Hearing in October, 2010. How ANY reputable eco-authority can overlook this FACT is, frankly, beyond comprehension.

All in all, the development of City View Park remains an 'eco-disgrace': a ticking time-bomb for the health of all living creatures within this unique - and increasingly 'stressed' - landscape.

Keep your eyes & ears open. And have a great summer GG. When it's time to 'replace' that million dollar crud in 5-10 years, we'll will have to rally the troops again. There will be a NEW Council by then. Maybe they will have better sense, and be a bit more 'connected' to the Living Natural World that sustains all of us daily.


Canadada said...

.... hmmm, just got a very snarky rant from a 'downtown' soccer enthusiast. Won't be posting it.

Instead, if this person REALLY wants to LEARN about the hazards and known toxicity of PLASTIC GRASS, they can review this link when they are a little calmer ...

When your child develops breathing problems, acute steph infections, and/or falls over from exhaustion because of the abundant heat generated by PLASTIC GRASS fields, perhaps you will reconsider the benefits of children playing on REAL dirt - as they have done for centuries all over the world.