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NEWS: Freshening the field (Spring 2018)

May 1st, 2018 · No Comments

Improving Huron Street to make a positive impact

Huron Street Junior Public School’s Big Tree, a heritage tree that is about 150 years old, is at the centre of a plan to revitalize the schoolyard. School representatives want to create a welcoming space around the tree, clean up the tennis courts, and remove the fences. GEREMY BORDONARO/GLEANER NEWS

By Geremy Bordonaro

Huron Street Junior Public School hosted a community meeting in late January to discuss plans for revitalizing its playground.

“There’s been a lot of rumbling, a lot of discussion, and a lot of thought over the last few years. I think what really started it was the full day kindergarten. When that started in 2014 it made us think bigger,” said Meg Gardner, who is both a teacher at Huron and a director of the Annex Residents’ Association. “We’ve got these kids, they’re little and here all day, they represent 25 per cent of the school population and we need a dedicated space for them to play.”

“We want to celebrate and create more of a welcoming space around the big tree” —Meg Gardner, Huron Street Junior Public School

While upgrades to the yard are sorely needed, the school highlighted four points that could use improvement: the large and old “Big Tree” that they want to use as a gathering point for the school, the grass playing field that is uneven and has drainage problems related to its original foundation, the baseball diamond that has an uneven sandlot and may end up becoming a safety hazard, and the tennis courts that have been falling apart.

“What we’re hoping to see is kind of a three-pronged approach,” explained Gardner. “We want to celebrate and create more of a welcoming space around the big tree. We also really want to clean up the tennis courts. We want to get rid of the concrete and the fences and make that a more usable space. We also really want to look at what the permanent sports areas will have to offer.”

“It’s really exciting for the community,” said Ausma Malik, the local trustee (Ward 10) for the Toronto District School Board. “The possibilities of this revitalization are really great. This master plan process is a wonderful opportunity to engage the ambitions for the playground with the entire community.”

It’s still unclear how the revitalization would be paid for, but the school’s representatives spoke openly at the meeting about their hope that some Section 37 funds could be allocated to the project. (Under Section 37 of the Ontario Planning Act, the City of Toronto can ask a developer for funding toward community projects when a zoning by-law is amended for a development.)

“It’s not so much about where the money is coming from at the city,” said Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina). “It’s all public land. I think we need to stop thinking in silos. Is this school board land? Is this city land? It’s all green space that the community uses. It’s all play space that our kids use. Therefore we just need to think about partnering together.”

Malik seemed to agree.

“Huron is a really amazing school that’s very connected to the community. The green space around the school that is obviously used during the school day is also used after hours as well. It’s a huge benefit to have improvements to the school playground. Not just for the kids and the families who participate in the life of the school but for the neighbourhood.”

The school is hopeful that funding can found so the revitalization can be completed quickly.

“I would like to see this done within the next two or three years,” said Gardner. “Likely it is going to take a little bit longer than that. With everyone’s help, from not only the school but the community, I think we can push this along.”



NEWS: Huron Street Playground renewal (April 2016)

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