Will city save Bridlebrook rec space?

Residents looking to keep the former school from development

Residents in Bridlebrook Park don’t want to see their recreational space fall into the wrong hands.

Local geography isolates the small neighbourhood, near Finch Avenue East and Leslie Street, making it difficult for community members to access fields or meeting places without driving, says David Perry, past president of the Bridlebrook Park Homeowners Association.

“This is one of those strange little areas that’s cut off by the ravine and the railroad and Finch Avenue,” Perry said. “So we’re sort of a little island unto ourselves.”

A building at 44 Appian Drive is the community’s only recreational space. It was built as a public school in the early 1960s but closed in 1986 due to declining enrolment. The Toronto school board currently leases out the property for educational use but is now thinking of selling it off.

In a move to prevent the neighbourhood’s recreational space from disappearing, Ward 33 councillor Shelley Carroll put forth a motion at council to ask city hall to buy the site to try and prevent it from being redeveloped.

“That’s what we’re hoping to avoid,” Carroll said. “I’d much rather be looking at the city owning it, making sure that it has the community uses in it that we’re hoping to have.”

Carroll also said she would be open to the idea of one of the existing tenants purchasing the property. The Prestige School, a private school of 150 students from kindergarten to grade 12, leases most of the property and has a positive relationship with the community, Perry said. The French Catholic District School Board also rents office space in the building but plans to move out this summer, according to a spokesperson.

“The Prestige School is almost perfect because it recognizes the need of the community to have some access to this area,” Perry said.

An annual Halloween event is held in the school’s gymnasium for local children and Prestige’s principal and part owner, Olga Margold, lets residents use the field and playground. Polls were stationed at the school during the recent elections.

Margold said she has expressed interest in buying the building but would support the city’s decision if it chose to purchase it.

“This is a special community that needs a community hub,” Margold said. “They need to have a playground and a greenzone. I’m completely in support of this property staying for the community.”

About this article:

By: Tristan Carter
Posted: Jun 10 2011 11:32 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto