• John Jantak

Pincourt refuses kids’ baseball team from using fields during off-hours


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Mariniers’ baseball player Maddox Georges takes a batter’s stance as he awaits a pitch during a game at Parc des Hirondelles in Notre-Dame-de-L’Île-Perrot last Sunday afternoon, May 26.

A little league baseball organization – the Mariniers – are miffed by Pincourt’s stance that officially prohibits the team from using the town’s baseball fields in the off-hours to hold practice sessions, especially when two nearby municipalities allow access to their fields for actual games.

The issue was raised by Mariniers vice-president Eric Georges during question period at the monthly council meeting on May 14. Georges, along with team president Maxime Poirier, spoke about their displeasure with Pincourt’s policy to The Journal after a baseball game at Parc des Hirondelles in Notre-Dame-de-L’Île-Perrot last Sunday afternoon, May 26.

Two different organizations

The Mariniers are a recent start-up organization affiliated with Little League International. Another organization, Baseball Presqu’île, has the exclusive right to use the baseball fields in Pincourt. Attempts by the Mariners to try to use the fields in the off hours for practice have been refused by the city, according to Poirier.

“With Pincourt the answer has been ‘no’ for quite a while. They explained they had a program that recognizes one organization per sport. The only thing we’re asking is that if nobody is using the field we would like to use it to practice. We’d even pay for it,” said Poirier.

“I’m a citizen and pay taxes’

“I know the city has a policy to give free fields for certain associations who were there before us. That’s fine but if nobody is on the field, why can’t we use it? It’s for the kids. I’m a citizen from Pincourt. I pay taxes. Why can’t we use the field when there’s no one there?” Poirier added.

“So what did we do? We showed up on the field early last Saturday morning. Nobody’s there. We practiced. As Pincourt citizens, we’re allowed to use the field. If somebody would show up, we would move,” said Poirier.

Neighbouring cities amenable

What bothers Poirier and Georges is that neighbouring L’Île-Perrot and Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot (NDIP) allow their organization to use their fields for free.

“We went through the city’s recreation departments to see if there were some fields available. Notre Dame was able to give us a few spots on Sundays and we also have L’Île-Perrot on Monday nights. We’re really glad about this because we need some fields to play on,” said Poirier.

‘It’s for the kids’

NDIP Mayor Danie Deschênes said the town’s policy to allow the Mariniers to use their facilities is simple. “It’s for the kids,” she said.

“We decided to support the team in different ways. First, in every city I think we only have one official organization to represent each activity or sport. Therefore, being the second organization playing baseball, they cannot be recognized as the official organization,” said Deschênes.

Being the official organization comes with certain privileges like having access to gyms, playing grounds, financial support and services such as having insurance at a lower rate, said the mayor.

‘Every child has the right to play’

“The Mariniers don’t have access to that. I sat down with our council and for us every child has the right to play. The Mariniers are a new organization and whether they’re official or not, they still take care of our kids. So our position was to offer the baseball playgrounds for free and to let them play whenever we have availability, said Deschênes.

“We booked time for the official organization and whatever time was available, we looked into it with the Mariniers and let them play. It’s for the kids. Our relationship with them is quite good. Each city makes their own decision, but for us, it’s for the kids. I can’t say it enough,” said Deschênes.

Specific organizations recognized

Pincourt Town Manager Michel Perrier said the town recognizes a specific organization for each activity and for baseball, it’s Baseball Presqu’île. “We recognize them as the baseball operator for the area. We do the same thing with other sports including softball,” said Perrier.

It’s normal for baseball fields to be unoccupied early in the season, said Perrier. “As the season goes on, there will be more games and practices that will have to be rescheduled due to weather conditions. We need to have free time on the fields because we know we’re going to need them down the road,” he added.

‘Made commitment that can’t be sustained’

The town also has to accommodate adult leagues, competitive leagues, and recreational leagues which also play on the same fields. “We have very little free time left as the season goes by. The town is merely applying the same policy we’ve applied for almost 40 years,” said Perrier.

It’s not that the town doesn’t want to accommodate the Mariniers. “When you create an association, you check beforehand to make sure you have everything you need. They recruited players, bought equipment, gear, sweaters, and then they began knocking on our door to say, ‘Oh, by the way. We need a field’. It doesn’t work that way,” said Perrier.

“That’s why they’re so desperate now to get fields and access because they made commitments that they cannot sustain right now,” said Perrier. “It’s unfortunate, but you can’t blame the town for that.”

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