Sixty signatures on a petition and neighbours voicing discontent has the city reconsidering the installation of a six-foot fence on the west side of Lower Sunningdale park.
Juli Dobie and Rick Morris met with Trail Mayor Mike Martin Wednesday afternoon requesting the project be delayed and alternate solutions to a permanent barrier be explored.
The 250-foot green mesh fence was slated to be in place by mid-April when soccer season kicked off, according to a city-issued letter sent to neighbours in the immediate vicinity of the park.
“The reaction to the fence has been very negative,” Dobie told the Trail Times earlier in the day. “We already have 60 signatures without even canvassing door-to-door, this is just people we’ve spoken to.”
She said homeowners facing the park are upset the fence line will obstruct their view of the verdant area, which is used primarily by youth and adult soccer leagues.
The city did give residents the opportunity to have a say in the matter prior to Trail council’s recent decision.
Robert Baker, Trail’s deputy director of parks and recreation, issued notice to 23 Sunningdale homeowners on March 24.
He described the project in the correspondence and gave residents one week to raise concerns, but only six people replied.
The 17 residents who didn’t, were considered “for” the fence along with one “for” respondent versus five homeowners who responded “against.”
“People are livid the city is doing this for one person,” said Dobie. “They assume people don’t care or are for it if the letter wasn’t returned. There was nothing in the letter that stated if you did not reply we would take it as assent,” she added. “But when you have five people directly facing the park saying no, and only one saying yes, it makes you wonder.”
After listening to Dobie and Morris, Martin said the pair presented sufficient information that should be presented to council.
“And if necessary, the decision to be reconsidered,” he explained. “It’s not for me to intervene on behalf of council, but we are listening and I did suggest they attend the May 11 council meeting for a public input period.”
Since 2012 there’s been back and forth between the homeowner and the City of Trail regarding errant soccer balls leaving Lower Sunningdale Park and landing on her Glen Drive property.
While no physical damage has been experienced by the property owner or neighbours, the soccer balls leaving the park appear to be an inconvenience, wrote Baker in a Feb. 4 memo to council.
In cooperation with the resident and the soccer association, staff considered solutions such as adjusting the angle of the soccer field lines to prevent the property from being behind the goal and suggested moving men’s soccer to another field entirely.
Last year, no adult league games were scheduled in the park. However, the field is used freely by the public, including ‘casual’ lacrosse and soccer players, as well as dog owners playing fetch and children on the playground, said Baker.
The city advised the soccer league that a temporary fence was no longer an option because of costly wear and tear, and the risk it posed to wildlife after several deer became trapped in the material.
During the April 13 governance meeting, Trail council agreed the best solution to resolve the matter was the installation of a six-foot chain link fence spanning the length of the west side of the soccer field.
The decision was based on municipal insurers identifying a liability potential at the site, which secured $4,900 in the form of a risk management grant.
“We don’t mind a temporary fence like in years past, that seemed to do the trick,” said Dobie. “Kids play in that park all the time, but what happens if one day there is no more soccer on that field?
“Then all you have is a giant chain link fence, so that’s something they have to think about.”