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Scarborough Thunder football dispute with city over gate fees, food sales appears to be resolving

City had earlier threatened to pull club’s permits for football fields

Scarborough Mirror June 10, 2015 Andrew Palamarchuk

A permit dispute between the city and the Scarborough Thunder Football Club appears to be resolving.

On June 1, the city threatened to pull the club’s permits for football fields if it continued to charge an entrance fee and sell food at games.

The club had paid $23,000 in permits for various venues in Scarborough this year, including Birchmount Stadium and the football field at Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School.

To recoup costs, the team has been charging the entrance fee and for a barbecue at games for the past 25 years.

But after a recent visit by a bylaw enforcement officer, the city advised that the practice must stop.

“We’re trying to do a lot of good things to help kids and keep them off the streets, but it just seems like we’re finding so many obstacles,” coach Bill Beattie said last week.

“If we don’t subsidize our costs by a gate fee or barbecuing, it goes back on the kids, and unfortunately not all of them can afford to even pay their fees now.”

The club reached out to local Scarborough-Agincourt Councillor Jim Karygiannis, and on Saturday permission was granted to charge gate fees.

“We’re still working on the barbecue,” said Beattie’s wife Susan Labadia, who had been running the barbecue.

“We have a water station now for hand washing … and we’ll have food handling safety certificates as well, which will be valid for five years.”

The group hopes to soon be granted permission to sell food.

Scarborough Thunder has 372 players aged six to 19 registered this season, many from at-risk neighbourhoods.

The club, which is part of the Ontario Varsity Football League, has helped more than 270 youth go to college or university through football. About 30 of them have also gone on to play pro; Orlando Franklin of the National Football League’s San Diego Chargers is among them.

“It’s about getting the university education. Playing pro is a bonus,” said Terry Greene, Scarborough Thunder’s vice president of operations.

Greene’s two sons have gone through the Scarborough Thunder program and one is now at the University of Regina.

“My kids got so much out of this (program),” Greene said. “Football is not just a game, it’s a way of life, it’s responsibility, respect.”