The question about a future Davisville community hub appears to be shifting from “Will there be a community centre?” to “What would you like to see there?”
The two dozen residents who attended a public meeting on Feb. 16 were given a tantalizing glimpse of what organizers have been thinking, including a swimming pool, affordable child care space, and a 6,000-square-foot gym to be shared with the new building for Davisville Junior Public School — all for an estimated price tag of $13 million.
None of it was official, as bringing a Davisville community hub to life will require both government support and community will — and it was that message, more than any other, that city of Toronto staff, the founders of grassroots community organization Midtown Hub, and Ward 22 councillor Josh Matlow wanted visitors taking away from the meeting.
“We need aquatic programming, we need gym space, we need more childcare,” Matlow said. “But we also need to work together as a community to see this dream become a reality.”
One remaining step is the transfer of a parcel of the school’s land from the Toronto District School Board, which initially considered selling the land to fund a new school, though Matlow said that since the provincial government announced it would be investing $14.7 million to build a new facility for Davisville in November the TDSB, and especially Ward 11 Trustee Shelley Laskin, have been onboard with the idea of building a community hub on the site instead.
Davisville Hub co-founder John Hiddema said that since the provincial government’s announcement, his organization has run a community workshop, met with a series of fundraisers and community organizations, and attended meetings with staff members from both the Ministry of Education and Premier Kathleen Wynne’s office.
“We’re getting a lot of attention, indicating that we’re really on the right track with how to get this happening for our neighbourhood, in a way that serves as a model for elsewhere,” Hiddema said.
Mike Schreiner, director of development with the city’s parks department, also spoke highly of the proposal, told the Town Crier that if approved, a community centre would not be built on the current Davisville lands until after 2020, when the new school is expected to be complete.
Ward 22 — despite its population of 65,000 — is the only ward in Toronto without a community centre.