Four years after the renovation of their local high school’s football field, residents who live next to Applewood Heights High School in Mississauga say the noise and constant daylight-like lighting is too much to bear.
In 2018, the Peel District School Board undertook a plan to revitalize and reuse the field, replacing it with shiny new turf and multiple soccer fields lit from above by several 80-foot-tall stadium-style lighting platforms.
They also struck a deal with a company known as Community Sports Partners, which would be responsible for renting out court time slots for groups to use for league games and practices, effectively eliminating free use of the court by of members of the local community.
Aside from a hiatus during restrictions put in place at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, residents say they are constantly exposed to yelling, swearing and whistling, and that their properties are shrouded in light pollution.
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Showing Global News a video she took from inside her home during a game, Lecia Forse, an area resident since 1986, shakes her head at the screams and howls coming from the other side of her backyard fence.
He said he likes to enjoy the gazebo, surrounded by greenery in his backyard, but lately he hasn’t been able to.
“I have two young grandchildren, and all they hear is the F word and the S word,” Forse said.
“You just hear the noise, the screaming and the whistling,” adds his neighbor Roman Wozniak, who also claims that people using the field have urinated on his fence.
However, when they take their complaints to the Peel District School Board or the city, they say they have been obstructed.
“Nobody wants to talk to us,” Wozniak said.
Every resident whose home directly borders the field seems to have their own album of photographs showing just how intrusive the bright white beams can be; shining in their bedrooms and over their backyards. Forse herself says the light is so bright that she can read in her backyard without even having to turn on her own lights.
When the work was first done, the lights stayed on until 11:00 p.m., regardless of whether the field was actually in use. Getting the city to turn them off at 10:00 pm is about the only victory residents have had in their dealings with the city and the school board in the last four years.
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In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the Peel District School Board told Global News that the Board “has had many meetings with this group of residents. They have had a delegation with our school board and with the City of Mississauga. We will continue to collaborate with the City of Mississauga and connect with local communities on the issue.”
The problem, residents say, is that they feel closed at all times. They say it has been like this since day one, without prior consultation.
“We didn’t find out about this until all the plans were finalized,” says Athena Tagidou, a member of the Applewood Hills & Heights Residents Association.
“Then we had them tell us something was going on in our area. And we had to take action.”
Tagidou accuses the board of doing the same thing to a group of residents who live near Heart Lake High School in Brampton, the site of another well-lit, revitalized soccer field leased by a private partner.
Global News visited the Heart Lake field after 10 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and found the lights glowing brightly, even though no one was using the field.
Those who live near Applewood Heights High School say they know people will accuse them of NIMBYism. They have already heard it.
Still, they insist that you can’t know how serious the disruption is until you’ve lived in their homes.
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“I just want them to come live here for a week,” Wozniak challenged critics, as well as City and PDSB staff.
“It could happen to anyone. Owned by anyone,” Forse added.
“I love watching people exercise; I love watching them at sports… there is a time and place for everything, but this was a lack of judgement, a lack of communication with the residents.”
The residents’ association says it has considered taking the city and school board to court, but that comes at a high price.
To make things better, they say officials would have to start by limiting the permitted use of the field to six days a week, giving them at least one day a week for peace and quiet. They would also like to have the lights off and the field empty at 9 p.m.
Global News has contacted local city councilor Chris Fonseca for comment but did not receive a response by the deadline.
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