Mississauga resident Karl Marques thought his basketball net, which was widely used by youth on his street, was an undeniable slam dunk hit in his Meadowvale neighbourhood. But then a city bylaw enforcement officer came knocking at his Doverwood Dr. residence.
A complaint had been lobbed at the hoop and an enforcement officer found that Marques’s basket, which was placed at the curb, facing the road on the grass portion of the city boulevard in front his house, violated Mississauga’s highway obstruction bylaws. The net was overhanging the street and needed to be moved before the end of July.
Marques, who described the basket as a means to providing “sunshine and fresh air” to neighbourhood kids including his two sons, called a foul on the city.
“Without basketball, I know the kids will retreat back into their houses,” he said. “I know the kids will all just go back to the video game consoles and computer screens.”
What followed was a short campaign of organizing his neighbours to push back on the enforcement order and appeal to Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Councillor Pat Saito (Ward 9) to let the kids play on.
Shahin Shamji-Allard lives around the corner from Marques and wrote an email to Crombie and Saito to defend the net. She said the basket gives her son, Gabriel, a social and physical outlet steps from their house.
“It’s peace of mind as a parent,” she said. “Knowing that your kids are outside, they’re having fun and you don’t need to wonder are they going to be OK.”
The city relented and will allow the net on the driveway portion of the city boulevard at Marques’s house, as long as it’s not overhanging the road.
But it wasn’t a total victory for Marques. He isn’t intending to move his net from the grass boulevard except for garbage collection days, when he said he would move the hoop back “a couple of feet.” The net was virtually in the same spot as before when bylaw enforcement visited his home again in July.
Saito, who worked with city staff to find a solution on the Doverwood net saga, said Mississauga will look into how Toronto changed its bylaws to allow street hockey and basketball and determine whether something similar could happen here.
“We want kids to be active and outdoors and healthy,” she said. “But we also want them to be safe and we’re going to make our decision balancing the two.”
Meanwhile, staff will produce a report on whether Mississauga should amend its bylaws governing street basketball nets, likely not until the fall.
Current bylaws forbid obstructing highways, which includes city sidewalks and boulevards, with sports equipment like basketball, hockey and soccer nets. Individuals caught violating the city’s obstruction bylaws are liable for fines not exceeding $25,000, and would be on the hook for expenses related to enforcement.
The Ward 9 councillor advised that ensuring that sports equipment isn’t over the street or sidewalk is key to residents avoiding issues with city.
“Keep it on your property, on your driveway, back from the road as much as possible and you should be OK,” she said.
A complaint about Marques’s net came from a Peel Region garbage collection contractor, who Saito said had clipped the hoop “at least once” with a truck.
Another Doverwood resident, Jagdish Thakar, was asked by the city in July to move his net, which was placed on grass in front of his house at the curb and facing the street.
Thakar said a city enforcement officer told him that his net, which is frequently used by his two sons and nephews who live on the street, was on city property.
“I said, OK, that’s fine,” he said recalling his conversation with the bylaw officer. “Then I am not cutting the grass on the city property and you have to come to cut the grass and clear the snow, if that’s the city’s property.”
Thakar said the street is quiet and the nets “aren’t hurting anyone.”
He doesn’t plan to move his basket until the city makes him.
Steve Cornwell is a reporter with the Mississauga News and Brampton Guardian. Reach him via email: email@example.com