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Catholic board proposes deal with city for new field

Sharing costs and use of $1-million sports field pitched by school board; trustee says project could become a vital part of south Oshawa

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

It’s an ambitious plan, but one that the Durham Catholic District School Board sees as being transformative for Oshawa’s south end.

During council’s recent community services committee meeting, representatives from the DCDSB approached councillors with plans to expand the sports field at Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic School, which is currently smaller than most competition fields and not conducive to most sports. The plan for a new full track and natural turf field could help make the site a “viable hub in the community,” said Theresa Corless, chair of the DCDSB board and a school trustee.

Bob Camozzi, DCDSB’s superintendent of education, detailed a possible joint-use agreement that would see a partnership between the city and the school board for use of the new field, if the city were able to chip in for the cost. Camozzi added the board has similar agreements in place with the Town of Ajax and other Durham municipalities.

“We’re looking for a joint costing arrangement, but we do appreciate that everybody is challenged with funds,” he said. “It’s a big investment, but it’s a small investment in this particular area.”

According to the Region of Durham’s Health Neighbourhoods system, 74 per cent of children are rated as being in excellent or good health in the area. However, that number is shy in comparison to all of the region, which sits at 92 per cent.

“We see the need as identified,” Camozzi said. “There is a real need for the children and families in this neighbourhood.”

Talks on the new field have been ongoing since the beginning of 2016, but councillors did not commit to any investment.

“It’s a great project, don’t get me wrong here, but it’s always the bottom line,” said Councillor Nester Pidwerbecki. “Everybody is now coming because they can’t go to the province because they have no money.”

According to Camozzi, the project would cost approximately $1 million, with the majority of the funds going toward the materials for the new track and turf.

“There are a lot of people coming forward with a lot of good ideas,” said Councillor Bob Chapman after the meeting. “We only have so much money, we don’t want to raise the taxes more than we actually have to to fit needs.”

And while the chair of the community services committee said he’s supportive of such a project, any commitment would depend on funding and the options brought back by staff, who are currently working on a report on potential possibilities.

“It’s a great concept. If we can find some middle ground that our treasurer says is affordable, that our staff say meets our priorities going forward.”

A timeline for the report’s completion was not provided, so it is unknown if it will be prepared prior to the city’s budget talks, which get underway next month.