The recent announcement that the Ontario government would provide $14.7 million in funding to rebuild Davisville Junior Public School was “fantastic news,” says Midtown Hub co-founder Lisa Kelleher, whose own daughter will be graduating from the school this year.
But it hasn’t distracted her or Midtown Hub co-founder John Hiddema from their primary goal: Bringing a community space to Ward 22, which remains the only municipal riding in Toronto without one.
“This opportunity only comes around every so often, and once it’s gone, it’s gone, so we’re getting feedback from the community any way we can,” Kelleher says.
Like many Davisville parents, Kelleher and Hiddema had anxiously watched since 2012 as the Toronto District School Board tried selling part of its land to developers to fund their children’s new school. They co-founded Midtown Hub (originally Davisville Hub) earlier this year to make sure that any new development would include a community space.
With the school’s funding now in place Kelleher, Hiddema, and their supporters, including Ward 22 Councillor Josh Matlow, want to make sure a community hub is also incorporated into the site.
So far, Matlow says, city staff have supported the idea of building a facility that would connect a pool, gym, and community centre and connecting it with the school, though he admits everyone involved is still in the process of identifying where the funds will come from.
The city would also need to establish an agreement with the school board in which the city would own the Parks and Recreation portion of the property, while the TDSB would own the school portion, Matlow says, though for visitors it would hopefully feel like one facility.
The next step, Kelleher says, is finding out what residents want to see at their future community hub. To that end, she and Hiddema have posted a survey on the organization’s website, www.midtownhub.ca, and hope to organize a public meeting in the next two months to gather a wider range of opinions from the neighbourhood.
They’ve also attended events run by organizations such as Artscape Wychwood Barns, to better understand how thriving community hubs work.
“We’ve learned that you really need to build a hub based on what the community says,” Kelleher says. “We have a lot of ideas — social services, enriched education services, arts-based programming — so there’s a bunch of avenues that we could go down, but we don’t know what the right mix is yet.”
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