Funding for centre and school

[attach]6806[/attach]A door leading to the Central Eglinton Community Centre’s second floor currently swings into the hall without warning.

“Although it’s never happened, we’re afraid of bowling someone over,” says Paula Cornett, the centre’s executive director.

To help address that concern, city council voted to give the centre $25,000 in section 37 funding (money paid to the city by developers to be used for projects of benefit to the community in exchange for approving projects that don’t meet current zoning bylaws).

“The city has a capital fund for health and safety, but our centre wouldn’t be eligible until 2019,” Cornett says. “We couldn’t wait six years to address our accessibility issues.”

As part of the upgrade the centre’s board also plans to install motorized doors with handicap access buttons into the centre’s public washrooms on the ground floor.

“We have a lot of children and senior’s programming, so we want to make things safer for people going in and out,” Cornett says.

Other plans include re-tiling the yoga room, purchasing new audio-visual equipment for senior movie nights and upgrading its computer lab.

“We’re thrilled,” Cornett says. “It’s exciting to be able to do what should have been done years ago.”

Council also voted to contribute $75,000 in section 37 funding to Northern Secondary School’s Northern Lakes landscape design project.

The student-led project will transform the building’s north lawn on Mount Pleasant Road into a dry riverbed with trees, plants, rock seating areas and stone paths.

“Right now … the lawn has been well tread upon,” says Ward 22 councillor Josh Matlow who brought both requests to council. “It looks, frankly, quite awful.”

The Northern Lakes project is a collaboration between the school’s architectural drafting class and student and parent volunteers, says Cindy English, the volunteer chair of the parent council’s EcoSchool committee.

Over a four-year period staff and parents researched about the area, led a school board consultation and investigated the landscaping costs of different projects, she says.

The students chose a dry riverbed after discovering the school was built over Walmsley Brook, which flowed through the former town of North Toronto.

“I think it’s because everyone was involved that it became so successful,” English says. “School landscapes have a calming effect that I think is really important to students, and having them build something like this gives them a really wonderful sense of ownership and change in their environment.”

Northern’s principal Ron Felsen says he’s thrilled with the project.

“It’s a really nice collaborative effort, and it will certainly look a lot nicer than what we currently have,” he says.

Matlow says that he’s happy to contribute municipal funds to school board property because it serves not only students, but the whole community.

“The design is incredible,” he says, comparing the students’ proposed landscape to the Muskoka region. “We have a lot of seniors’ homes there, and I think it will be a really nice place for local residents to come and find a little peace in the midst of a very busy area.”