Organizers of the Save Bannockburn movement say they will be meeting this month to discuss a proposal brought to them by a candidate running for council in Ward 16 to resolve a contentious land issue at a North Toronto school.
The proposal brought forward by J.P. Boutros would see the city buying the land in the schoolyard of Bannockburn School that the Toronto District School Board wants to sever and sell off. An application to do so was denied by the city in May, and the TDSB is now appealing that decision at the Ontario Municipal Board.
Boutros has suggested funding the purchase of the land with the money earmarked for the Scarborough subway through a raise in property taxes.
The proposal also suggests cancelling the Scarborough subway in favour of LRT, but keeping the raise in taxes and using that money for various capital projects throughout the city.
Patricia McMahon, a lead activist in the movement to save Bannockburn, welcomed the news of Boutros’ plan, saying she’s looking forward to the meeting, where she hopes to iron out details and understand how ther plan would work.
“We’re delighted that this is an issue significant enough that candidates for council are coming up with proposals for,” she said. “Not just giving statements that they support the greenspace — because, who are we kidding, who doesn’t support a park? — but it’s nice to see someone actually coming up with a proposal to pay for it.”
Boutros, who until February worked as a senior aide to Karen Stintz in her role as TTC chair, recently came out in opposition to his former boss and against the Scarborough subway.
He says the money being raised through taxes for the subway could be put to better use.
“If that tax remains in place, it has to be used for different priorities,” he said. “I want it out there that this park can’t be had because that subway was had.
“You lose parks … because Rob Ford wants a subway.”
Boutros is up against nine other contestants seeking to succeed Stintz in Ward 16, including aerospace project manager Christin Carmichael Greb, fire and security officer Michael Coll, financial planner Charm Darby, former engineer and patent attorney Thomas Gallezot, urban planner Terry Mills, direct mail business owner Paul Spence, municipal lawyer Adam Tanel, software developer Peter Vukosavljev and law teacher Dyanoosh Youssefi.
Another part of the plan, Boutros says, is to work with organizers of the Pan Am Games to make Bannockburn and other parks across the city practice fields for some athletes at the games.
He says after the games are over, plaques can be installed, identifying them as Pan Am Legacy Parks.
“Kids would love to see super athletes come and practice in their communities right next door — it’s tangible, it’s real,” he said, recalling watching the German national soccer team practice at Varsity Stadium in 1990 and how that made him more of a soccer fan. “If kids who live around here see a little plaque that says ‘Pan Am’, they’ll remember it a different way.”