News / Toronto

Sports teams to fight ‘tax on kids’

For their 60th birthday, the East York Baseball Association got an unexpected gift from the City of Toronto in mid-February: a bill for $53,000.

It’s for the new user fees on playing fields introduced in the 2012 budget, a fee dubbed by one player as an uncool “tax on kids.”

There was “no heads up, no consultation, no explanation,” said Andrew Pace, president of the East York Baseball Association. “How are we supposed to pay this? It’s not fair to turn our volunteers into tax collectors.”

The league just installed new lights on one of their baseball diamonds, which their volunteers also spend $20,000 a year maintaining. But this new cost means they might not be around next year to use them, he said.

Pace, along with volunteers, parents and players from affected youth and children’s leagues including baseball, netball, lacrosse, ball hockey and soccer, spoke at the Tuesday evening town hall to ask city councillors to waive users fees for this year.

Some of the speakers want the fee cancelled entirely, others want to be consulted on what the fee should be for 2013, and then be given enough time to budget for the cost.

The users fees are expected to bring about $1.5 million in revenue. And the fees could translate into an extra cost to players from $20 to more than $100 depending on the sport and team.

Low-income families will be hit hardest, said Abdirahman Aden, of the Initiative for Youth Excellence Service, a soccer league that caters to a low-income community.

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