Serving Toronto's most liveable community with the Annex Gleaner

FOCUS ON EDUCATION (DECEMBER 2016): Monsignor Fraser College needs help to go green

December 20th, 2016 · No Comments

Phase one to include removal of fence

COURTESY MATTHEW SWEIG/FOREST AND FIELD LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE INC.: The proposed plan for converting the unused schoolyard into a green oasis includes planters, an amphitheatre, and a path for crossing the site.

By Annemarie Brissenden

Plans are afoot to green the Annex campus of Monsignor Fraser College, but help — lots of help — is needed to raise the $300,000 it will cost to make that happen. Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) trustee Jo-Ann Davis (Ward 9, St. Paul’s, Toronto-Centre, Trinity-Spadina) reviewed the plan to turn the Markham Street school’s former schoolyard — currently a paved unused space surrounded by a fence — into an oasis for both students and community members alike at a community meeting late last month.

The space is a legacy of the site’s previous tenant, an elementary school that was consolidated with St. Raymond Catholic School (which in turn is to be consolidated with St. Bruno Catholic School). These days Monsignor Fraser operates as an alternative learning site, drawing students from across the city.

“We pride ourselves on relationship building with students, and would like to extend that out into the community”—Marcello Mancuso, principal

“We pride ourselves on relationship building with students, and would like to extend that out into the community,” said the school’s principal Marcello Mancuso at the meeting. “We are hoping to engage the students, and engage the students with the community in something worthwhile.”

Working with stakeholders from the community like the Evergreen and David Suzuki foundations, Foodshare, and the St. Peter’s Parish, the board has developed a working framework.

It includes a green lawn, a path through the space, raised planters for food production, spaces to display art, a sacred space for quiet reflection, seating, and an amphitheatre. And of course, the high fence would be removed.

Jacquanline Liu, project supervisor at the TCDSB, explained that the board anticipates it will have to rehabilitate the space in three phases. In the first, the fence would be ripped out, and the amphitheatre enhanced. In the second, raised planters would be installed, as well as seating for multiple users, while in the third and final stage, an art display area would be set up, as well as a potential greenhouse, and sacred space. Doing the project in three phases increases the cost by $100,000, but the board’s representatives are skeptical they can raise enough money to do everything in one go.

Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) is an enthusiastic supporter of the plan, saying “if we get community agreement, I will work to find funding.”

“Our neighbourhood is deficient in greenspace, but if we’re going to make our neighbourhood more livable, we’re going to have to get creative,” added the councillor.

The school board has established a fundraising campaign, and has begun to apply for various grants, but it is looking for a person or organization to champion the project.

“We almost need an outside organization to take the lead because the board has a limited capacity for driving a project like this,” said Davis.

Those in attendance at the meeting were generally positive about the proposed greening, and were keen to see the fence removed, sooner rather than later.

Jennifer Hunter, president of the Seaton Village Residents’ Association, sees the potential for a community building opportunity, but acknowledged the challenges of engaging members for such an activity.

“Once the fences are gone” though, “that will generate interest.”



NEWS: A $9.4-million school with a view (June 2016)


Tags: Annex · News