TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford pledged his support Thursday to a $6-million sports complex planned for a downtown high school .
Before leaving a public meeting on the facility at Central Tech near Bathurst and Bloor Sts., Ford told reporters this is for the kids.
They, and the downtown community, need the project which could be paid for by a private company, he said.
“I’ve personally played on it, I’ve coached kids on it, that field is not safe,” Ford said of the current condition of the high school’s field.
The project would install a seasonal dome, a FIFA-grade soccer field, an Olympic-sized track and upgraded change rooms.
Ford downplayed concerns some neighbours voiced about an increase in traffic expected if the plan moves ahead.
Building more subways is part of the solution, but traffic is projected to get worse across the city and that can’t stop projects like this, he said.
“The only solution is ban cars in the city,” he said. “I’m not in favour of that.”
Councillor Adam Vaughan, who represents the ward, said he is frustrated because the developer, Razor Management, has done little to address a number of concerns including congestion that will be caused by the project.
“Promising to address (traffic issues) when it’s already a done deal doesn’t give us much comfort,” Vaughan said.
Central Tech grad and former Toronto Argonaut Adriano Belli spoke up in support of the project to the standing room only crowd in the school’s library. Sports can put students on a positive path in life and this facility will help the kids do that, he said.
“Is this whole thing perfect, probably not,” Belli said. “But I’m here to tell you it’s headed in the right direction.”
The project would see Razor Management build and operate the complex for 20 years. The Toronto District School Board would retain ownership.
One recent grad said he blew out his knee playing football on the field and challenged opponents at the meeting for a show of hands for those who did not support the project.
Another student said to play rugby on the field they have to put gym mats down.
“It’s pretty bad when you have to put mats down to keep from getting hurt,” she told the gathering.
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