Toronto – (November 6, 2000)
At noon in Nathan Phillips Square, City Hall, mayoral candidate Tooker Gomberg will join with concerned residents from the City-wide Recreation Network to deliver a challenge to the Mayor to commit to a fully public recreation system in Toronto.
“The introduction of user fees is destroying community life in St. Lawrence,” says Tim Burns, a long time resident of the St. Lawrence neighbourhood. “Our once popular and busy community centre is now like a ghost town. User fees mean lots of people who live here can’t use the centre we all helped build. We’re being shut out of programs we already pay for through our property taxes.”
Toronto City Council has cut more than $12 million out of the Parks and Recreation budget since amalgamation in 1998 and introduced user fees in the former City of Toronto for the first time in nearly forty years. User fee levels in other parts of Toronto have gone up and programs have been cut back. Many neighbourhoods have never had recreation facilities.
Gomberg, alongside the City-Wide Recreation Network, will challenge Mr. Lastman to debate the issue of accessible public recreation.
“You can’t talk about bringing the Olympics to town and then turn around and dismantle opportunities for people to participate in sports and recreation activities in their own neighbourhoods,” Gomberg says. “This is yet another issue where we’ve had no leadership from the Mayor over the past three years.”
Gomberg pledges to phase out user fees for recreation programs across the city and to reinstate all the money that has been cut from the system immediately. He will also develop a plan to build community centres in neighbourhoods that need one.