Readers react to the University of Toronto's plan to shrink its green space in favour of building new artificial playing fields for elite athletes.
Please preserve the U of T green space. Downtown Toronto has little enough, and I look forward to the smell and slight humidity of the grass as I walk to the campus on my morning commute from Union Station. The campus is a green oasis to be shared by all.
James Brenan, U of T staff
My room at Wycliffe College overlooked the back campus in the late 1950s. I fondly remember students throwing a football to help relieve exam stress. The Toronto Argonauts used to practice there on occasion when the Grey Cup was held at Varsity Stadium. I am appalled that the governing council would agree to such a step. Where is the planning board of our city in all this? Surely they would not approve the elimination of this green urban oasis.
Don MacInnes, alumnus
Stick with the natural grass, U of T ! It's not just the visual green space that is lodged in my memory. There's the distinctive smell in spring and in fall; the textures underfoot; the overheard conversations and the shouts of people at play; the cool shade at the margins of the back campus: all of this matters. Don't even think about fencing off and privatizing for profit what is the heart of the U of T community for students and faculty and staff and citizens.
Ellen Anderson, alumnus
I am outraged by this plan. Heritage should be preserved for present and future generations to enjoy and be inspired. Might as well sell Soldier's Tower to Bell for cellphone antennas.
Perry Bowker, alumnus
Green space is essential to the image of the University of Toronto. Historic and beautiful. This is a mistake.
Sean Hayes, current student
Absolute nonsense. I will suspend any financial support to the two faculties I attended as an indication of my concern.
Robert Galway, alumnus
The experience of being a student, of walking and talking in green space shapes one's views for life in a very positive fashion. No, keeping some elite athletes happy with a central facility is not as important as encouraging generations of students (and the rest of us) to walk and think in something approximating natural surroundings.
Mary Corbett, former resident of the area and staff member
I think this is a sign of a university that has forgotten that it is above all a public service. Just because it is impossible to quantify the usage of a space that lets people play, relax, and wind down, not to mention think, discuss, and debate, does not mean it's not important.
Jamie Murton, area resident
This is a terrible idea that I hope dies before it can be realized. The natural green spaces of U of T's downtown campus are a beautiful oasis in the heart of the campus and indeed of the city. One group's special interests should not take precedence over the interests of the thousands of students and staff, not to mention citizens of the city who enjoy this respite in their daily lives.
Rosemary Fillmore, alumnus
While a grad student, my old office in University College basement used to look across the field, and gazing out across the space gave me a welcome breath of fresh air on a daily basis. I have watched raptors and spring avian migrants hop through the massive trees that line the western edge of the field. Will they be cut down now too because their leaves and roots interfere with machine-groomed turf? That space is enjoyed by all students and Torontonians. Kids from the nearby residences hang out, play pick up sports, and unwind. Why should it be fenced off and accessible only to a small group of elite athletes?
Tom Deligiannis, alumnus
The Pan-Am deal is a great one for the games...but after that, the loss of an open green, unfenced, natural grassed space, home to countless insects and pollens, right in the centre of an increasingly people-dense city, is an enormous, irreplaceable loss to all.
Richard Bingham, area resident
Despite university claims that it is essentially only used in the fall, I have spent a lot of time playing softball, Frisbee and other sports from late spring to fall. This is about maintaining sports only played by the elite, rather than caring about the thousands of students that just play sports to be healthy.
Jason Dumelie, current student
This space should be not be converted into a playing field for the few at the expense of the many. I often walk through this space and enjoy it as it is. If anything, plant a few more trees along the edges and make room for some permaculture gardens, but do not pave it and place plastic on what is now a beautiful space.
Mark Hathaway, current student
As a student and working stiff in the 1970s, I lived in the U of T neighborhood. Many an evening was spent playing pickup soccer with a veritable United Nations of fellow enthusiasts. As a B.C. transplant, I was a rare native-born participant kicking a ball around with others whose countries of origin included Korea, Turkey, Jamaica, Trinidad, the UK, Portugal, Italy and India. Please do not let the Pan-Am Games raze these fields dreams!
Mike Edwards, area resident
I ran many hundreds of miles on the informal track around the outside of the back campus. It's a lovely oasis in a big city and an important part of the University of Toronto athletic tradition. Please, let's save it from the clutches of these pinhead administrators.
Erik Talvila, alumnus
I first encountered the back campus in September, 1944, as a Grade 9 student at The University of Toronto Schools. I played football there. I have paraded there as a member of a reserve regiment, walked over it many times and believe the university has lost its way.
Gerald Jackson, alumnus
The university could have fenced the area off years ago and kept it as pristine green space to be admired but hardly touched. But instead it is used by students from across campus and in that sense is a spectacular example of a shared play space. That's priceless in the heart of a city like Toronto. It's a shame to see that policy changing.
Dale Barbour, current student
I was a graduate student at U of T in the mid- to late-80s. We used the green space on the north and south side of University College for Frisbee, ball toss, lunches, chats and just hanging out. We put a high value on that green space -- our ability to quickly get out of our offices and out into fresh air to relieve pressure, discuss research questions and renew our minds and bodies.
David Hay, alumnus
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