After five long years, Northern Secondary School is finally having a field day.
Toronto city council approved the allocation of funds to revitalize Northern’s sports field after a lengthy process that saw the community conflicted over shared use, finances and a four-storey inflatable dome.
The project, once known as the Field of Dreams, has been in the works since 2006.
Ward 22 councillor Josh Matlow, who advocated for the field in his former role as a Toronto District School Board trustee, has described the field in its current state as patchy, full of holes and unusable at times.
“If you’ve ever seen the field, you’d know it’s in very poor shape,” he said.
Matlow said he was pleased to see the project finally get off the ground.
“I cannot tell you how fulfilling it is to be able to see the end of this very long project,” he said. “There have been kids who have graduated since this project was proposed . . . it’s been way too many years.”
The project faced financial challenges from the start. Further complications arose when residents opposed the construction of a large dome that would allow the field to be used during the winter months.
Residents claimed that the dome would be an eyesore and would create parking and traffic congestion issues by centralizing soccer into one place.
Ultimately, the school decided not to build the dome and was able to raise the necessary cash through fundraising and an agreement with a local developer.
While the Northern Secondary School Foundation raised over $1 million for the project and the school secured $260,000 from the city and school board, it wasn’t enough.
The project will receive $500,000 from a section 37 agreement with K & G Construction, which will see the developer give the city $1 million to build a 15-storey condo building at 299 Roehampton Ave. in an existing apartment complex.
Matlow said the community felt the development was a fair trade.
“It’s a development that’s supported by the local residents,” he said. “They think that it’s reasonable.”
Since city funds will be going toward the new field, residents felt they were entitled to its use. After much debate, a community use agreement was created, allowing the community to use the field for recreational purposes during evenings and weekends.
The new Clarke Pulford Field, named after a former Northern phys-ed teacher, will feature a 400-metre running track, as well as full football and soccer fields. The grass will be replaced with artificial turf and bike racks and fences will be installed.
Construction is scheduled to begin this summer, and could potentially be completed before the school opens in the fall.