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Respect our park land – An open letter to the Edmonton District Soccer Association

UPDATED July 29th, 8:00 am – see below for details.

Mr. Mike Thome, Executive Director, Edmonton District Soccer Association

Dear Mr. Thome,

On Wednesday evening, July 27, I set out for one of my favorite activities in the City of Edmonton – a run in our River Valley.  My preferred route takes me past the City fields on 84st between the Archdiocese and McNally High School. As I set out on my run, a senior men’s soccer game was just wrapping up on the southern-most field – a field known as Forest Heights #1.  It was a lovely night, and it was wonderful to see people out enjoying the parkland and to see many family members watching the end of the game and enjoying the wonderful view of the City skyline. I doubt there is a better view from any soccer field in the City.

By the time I returned from my run, everyone had packed up and gone their separate ways, but unfortunately had not taken with them some of what they brought to the game.  I stopped to pick up:

  • over 40 individual pieces and balls of tape;
  • three empty water bottles;
  • multiple plastic wrappers from the tops of Gatorade/Powerade bottles;
  • cardboard packaging from Umbro soccer socks;
  • A can of Deep Woods Off (recommended by Bob Izumi, who I am sure would prefer it be disposed of appropriately).

All of this was in the bench areas, each of which is conveniently equipped with a garbage can.

I am sure you will agree that this is not an acceptable condition in which to leave a City field.  Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have had a similar experience with members of your organization.  On several occasions last year, I had similar experiences and exchanged correspondence with your Association.  While I was assured that the issue would be taken care of, clearly the message has not been received by your members.  Wednesday night’s game, it appears, was played between two of your teams, Rampage and Alliance FC. I wonder who they expect will clean up after them?

I have posted this letter on my blog (, which I usually devote to energy and  environmental issues. The purpose of making this letter public is, in part, to encourage other residents who enjoy the River Valley as I do to demand that users including but not limited to your Association respect our public lands. It would be my pleasure to post any reply to this letter detailing your policy for leaving City fields as you have found them, and the penalties to teams who do not follow these guidelines.  I am sure there is significant demand for field time in the heart of our City – if your players won’t respect them, I would strongly encourage the City to make these fields available to someone who will.

Best regards,

Andrew Leach

UPDATE – July 28th: Please see initial response from EDSA Executive Director Mike Thome here.

UPDATE#2 – July 29th : A misunderstanding as to which field was involved led me to assume that Wednesday night’s game had been a scehduled event of the Edmonton Gentlemen’s Soccer League.  You can see the response from their director, Douglas Williams, here.

UPDATE #3 – July 29th: I have sent a follow-up message to Mike Thome, who I expect will respond shortly.

15 responses to “Respect our park land – An open letter to the Edmonton District Soccer Association”

  1. Emily

    I love it that you took the time to write a well-written & gracious letter. Perhaps you should send it to the newspaper. Three cheers for you that you actually picked up the stuff.

    You’ve inspired me to contact the manager of a Second Cup I visited this morning.

    When I was getting coffee this morning, the server used a disposable cup to fill my reusable cup. I asked her about it and she assured me that the disposable cup was clean and that she will throw it out after! I replied that I wish she didn’t and she said, “well I had to measure what size of coffee I was going to charge you for.” This of course makes perfect sense.

    I just walked away. Tomorrow I will call.

    Thanks, Emily

  2. Sandy

    Andrew, I have lots of great witty comments but those can wait. First, well written and well done. Not everyone would stop to pick up all the garbage, I may have but only because I detest running and would have been cooked and looking for an excuse to bring my hurt-level down. The key question you ask is “whom do they expect will clean up after them?” That’s a great question. When we would like to promote behaviour change we must help them break the cycle. You answer that question yourself by letting me know that in fact, you, Andrew Leach, is the person they expect to clean up after them. You’ve done it before, you did again. Here’s a ballsy suggestion. Next week, collect garbage in a bag from all the games. Then arrive at the field just before the game is about to begin, your shoes tightly laced, your legs already warmed up. Just before the whistle blows and the ball drops, calmly walk out to the center of the field with two letters that explain that we’re all sick of these “adults” acting like pigs. Letters delivered, dump said garbage in the middle of the field where they can’t ignore it. Continue run. I would suggest an interval-type workout where the first 400 m is full sprint.

    Sarcasm and humour aside, keep up the great writing and I’m glad to hear the human and social side of Edmonton is alive and well, even if not with all citizens.


  3. Joel Wood


    To link this back to environmental econ, I hope that your new information disclosure policy will work! There’s nothing wrong with a little public shaming.

    Another solution may lie in the rental agreement for the field. If this little experiment in information disclosure does not work, maybe a call to the City Parts Dept will. If the stick doesn’t work, better get a bigger stick.



  4. Richard Dixon

    Both as an economist and a soccer referee I would suggest your blog use for this particular topic is a good example of polluter pays principle.

    On the economist side: we expect the polluter (in this case a particular league) pays in loss of respect from others knowing of their pollution. Note I have not put a value on what has been payed.

    On the referee’s side: this is called “showing a yellow card”. Haven’t been ordered off the field but two cautions = red.


  5. David Wilson

    So easy to be smug, and so difficult to know when to use ‘who’ and when ‘whom.’

    There is a bench in a nearby park which I prefer – it has a good view of the band-stand and a bit of a vista. Other people prefer it as well – sometimes I have to pass by on my way to and from the library instead of resting for a few minutes because it is already occupied.

    And some of these ‘others’ regularly leave a mess, which I often pick up and put into the garbage bin & recycling container just a few yards away.

    One day as I was cleaning up I was also internally cursing the idiots who left the mess; at which point a half-empty tin of some sugar drink tipped and ran up my sleeve. Ah! I thought – instant Karma!

    Be well, David Wilson.

  6. David Wilson

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