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Newmarket anti-littering threat confuses after park hoop removal

Municipality put up sign threatening to remove basketball hoop if littering situation did not improve, but says removal this week was actually due to maintenance

Arnhem Park area resident Candace Broughton said folks in the neighbourhood make an effort to clean up litter in the area. 

So when the municipality put up a sign warning litter could lead to the loss of the park’s basketball hoop, she said it caused concern — especially when the hoop was eventually removed June 21.

“How are you punishing the kids?” she said, adding that litter can come from anyone. “We try to teach kids to look after what we have, and now they get punished because somebody picked up a water bottle, or some old lady didn’t have anything better to do? Very frustrating.”

Residents made public outcry when the town removed the park’s basketball hoop this week without any immediate explanation other than the sign next to it. Town officials subsequently confirmed the hoop was removed for maintenance with plans to return on the weekend and took down the original littering sign. 

“The basketball net and pole was removed at Arnhem Park as it is currently undergoing repairs,” the town’s public work services said. “We expect the pole and the basketball net to be reinstalled by weekend (weather permitting). We have also placed signage on the fencing at the park to notify residents of the removal.”

The municipality said the littering signage was placed in the area last summer and it is important to keep parks clean by using the waste bins.

However, a community Facebook post on the matter garnered dozens of comments from residents upset by the move and initially under the impression it was due to littering.

“Punishing the whole neighbourhood for the actions of a few is not reasonable or logical,” one commenter said.

Bill Girard lives next to the park. He said neighbours contacted the town and Ward 2 Councillor Victor Woodhouse.

“He actually handled it quite well,” Girard said. “They’ll be taking care of the park now that this area has done something about this.”

Broughton questioned the expense of removing and putting the net back in but is glad it is returning.

“As long as it’s going up, I’ll be fine,” she said, adding the net sees plenty of use from local youth. “We’re supposed to be enjoying ourselves, and now there’s no basketball net.”