Toronto City Councillor Mike Layton’s Bickford Park Improvement Survey


The Condors and Ravens line up to congratulate one another on a great Tee Ball game at the Bickford Park North Diamond on May 21, 2013.

The Condors and Ravens line up to congratulate one another on a great Tee Ball game at the Bickford Park North Diamond on May 21, 2013.

A Message to Parents and all Toronto Playgrounds House League Baseball Supporters

As many of you know there has been an on-going community discussion for many many years regarding the “revitalization”/”improvement” of Bickford Park, and the future of tee ball and baseball at Bickford Park has become one of the focal points.

We are sending this to encourage you to complete the survey regarding Bickford Park which Councillor Mike Layton has placed on his website, and to also provide you with some background and clarification. The two options currently being considered for the design of Bickford Park, Option 1 and Option 2, are set out and illustrated within the survey itself.

The Toronto Playgrounds House League Baseball Committee needs your support to protect our tee ball and baseball programs that have been operating in Bickford Park for many many years. We think this is important to our program, the kids who want to play ball now and in the future, and to our community as a whole.

Our league has been operating out of Bickford Park since 1991…the north diamond in Bickford Park was the birthplace of our houseleague, which originally was called Lizzies Baseball. This was before the park was officially designated as an off-leash dog park, which was roughly in 1997. Over the years our league has obviously grown…this year we have over 600 players (the highest number we have had in many years) registered from the tee ball division through to the midget division, along with approximately 100 volunteer coaches and over 20 umpires….when we factor in the five select teams and five rep teams playing under the Toronto Playgrounds banner, our numbers are well over 800. Our current success has also resulted in many local businesses becoming involved with us as sponsors…this success would not have been possible if not for the establishment of the tee ball diamond in Bickford Park those many many years ago.

It is also important to realize that our league has not just been a recreational baseball program (although it has been an excellent one of those too!)…it has been an incredibly successful exercise in community building…our league has brought people together, allowed players and parents to make new friends, and given thousands of young people the opportunity to develop stronger self esteem and confidence while learning the values of teamwork and fair play. Oh yes, they have also had enormous amounts of fun at the same time!!  Another important thing about our league, which some of you already know, is that many of our players end up taking the training to be umpires and or coaches, and then take on those positions of responsibility further expanding their levels of skill and experience. Quite a lot of really amazing stuff has resulted from that tee ball diamond being built in Bickford Park!

Growth in our tee ball program is a huge part of our high registration numbers this season…we have moved to twelve tee ball teams from ten last year (not that many years ago it was six!), and there are still literally dozens of names on a waiting list. Based upon this and the number of enquiries we`ve had from parents whose children are now 3 and ready to sign up next year, it`s clear to me that we need to expand our tee ball capacity…we need more diamonds to play on, not fewer (or even the same number). Please keep this in mind as you complete the survey.

A few of the questions on the survey have an Additional Comments Box included. Unfortunately question 12 isn`t one of them. If it did then people could say that they would only support the relocation of our tee ball program to the field just south of Art Eggleton Park if it increased the current level of service, not merely maintained it…we feel that moving our tee ball program farther from our existing permitted space at Christie Pits and Bickford Park could only be justified if it resulted in more diamonds being available for tee ball, not simply the same number. Without an Additional Comments Box, however, anyone feeling this way will have to communicate that to Councillor Layton`s office through a separate e-mail.

We feel strongly – and hope you’d agree – that the answer to question #13 should simply be “No”.

When question 14 talks about a “reduced footprint`of the backstop, it means that the fence behind home plate would not be as high and the fences going down the first and third base lines would not be as long.

The link to the survey is We’d like to thank all of you for your on-going support of our league and the opportunities it provides to the children and youth in our community, and we hope that you choose to support on-going baseball and tee ball in our community as you complete the survey. Finally, members of our baseball committee feel strongly that a fenced-in off-leash area for dogs is the best way to deal with the off-leash issue…the survey will provide you with the opportunity to either support this position or to not do so.
Thanks for your time and consideration of this message.
On behalf of the Toronto Playgrounds House League Baseball Committee,
Steve Smith

Coordinator, Toronto Playgrounds House League Baseball