New rec centre for Edithvale

[attach]2885[/attach]Willowdale residents eager for a little rest and recreation will find themselves with more options starting this fall.

On November 1, the Edithvale Community Centre opened its doors to the public on Finch Avenue near Drewry Avenue marking the first time a new community centre has opened in Toronto in the past five years.

“It’s been fabulous. Everybody’s been very pleased when they’ve gone in,” community recreation supervisor Heather Atherton said.

“It’s been quite a positive response. Going from a school that was 50, 60 years old without all the modern amenities of this facility—it’s quite an improvement.”

For the previous 25 years the community centre was housed in a defunct elementary school. But in a deal swapping land and money, the city obtained the property from the Toronto District School Board for the purpose of building the new $14.75 million community centre. The facility was paid for with money levied from developers.

In addition to a banquet hall, double gymnasium, two preschool rooms, fitness and dance studios, a weight room and an indoor, elevated running/walking track, the building boasts a number of ‘green features.’ Those include a green roof where wildflowers will divert rainwater from sewers, as well as lighting, ventilation and temperature systems designed to lower the building’s energy usage and improve its overall ecological footprint.

[attach]2888[/attach]“It’s a symbol of the community coming together,” ward 23 Councillor John Filion said. “It’s a fabulous recreation facility in an area that needs it because of massive population growth. It also helps build and solidify community networks.”

Filion said the building is the culmination of 13 years of hard work on the part of the community. He credited area residents, who in 1984 arranged to hang on to the former Edithvale Elementary School and use it as a community centre. That building housed the community centre until its recent demolition made way for the new facility and ensured the spot remained a community hub.

Although the new centre is now open, it had a bit of a false start. While the ribbon cutting ceremony was held October 16, work delays meant the facility couldn’t actually open to the public until Nov. 1.

“We had picked the date of the 16th some time ago and we had anticipated being able to open soon after that,” Atherton said. “But like most construction programs, we ran into some delays here and there… We are in full-blown mode right now. We’ve started our programs and permits.”

Only a few finishing touches remain to be completed on the centre, including the kitchen facilities and the final paving and painting of the parking lot.