BY DANIELLE MILLEY | EAST YORK MIRROR AUG 19, 2011
Kanchana Batta, left, and Shamiza Baig help Guna Batta, 5, on with his helmet before a cricket demonstration at Valley Park Middle School, following the announcement Thursday of a $500,000 Trillium Foundation grant to the Valley Park Go Green Cricket committee. The group plans to create a regulation cricket pitch at the site. - Staff photo/CHLOE ELLINGSON
The Valley Park Go Green Cricket Field project is definitely a go.
With the announcement Aug. 18 of a $500,000 capital grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the committee has raised two-thirds of the money it needs to redevelop the school yard at Valley Park Middle School. The $1.5-million project would turn the yard of portables and asphalt into an oasis with a butterfly meadow, an outdoor amphitheatre, herb and vegetable garden, interpretive marsh, and facilities to play cricket, soccer, baseball and basketball. The new space will bring the Don River valley onto the school grounds for the 1,200-student middle school.
"Not only is it a cricket field, but it's a multi-purpose field. It will be a great learning experience for our young people to learn about the environment...Kids are going to have hands-on experiences where maybe they wouldn't have been able to before," said John Carey, the executive director of Flemingdon Neighbourhood Services, of the project that will also include environmental elements such as rainwater harvesting and a bioswale.
FNS, as well as the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, are two of the committee's partners in the project. The grant has been awarded to FNS on behalf of the project.
Lisa Grogan-Green is the project's co-chairperson. She said the committee started off as a small group within the school and has grown to include many partners from the neighbouring community who are helping to make this dream a reality.
"The whole community will benefit and learn at the same time as they enjoy," she said.
The community could see a ground breaking as early as the fall or the spring.
"With this Trillium donation there is no stopping us," Grogan-Green said. "We just feel very comfortable moving forward that this is a go."
Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne made the happy announcement.
"I can't tell you how proud I am that we've been able to support this project and how pleased I am that current and future kids and community members will be able to use this project," she said. "It goes way beyond school kids."
Julie Dasoo has lived in the community for 20 years. She is the chairperson of the school council at Valley Park and was one of the first people to get involved with the cricket project committee.
"Today is the day I've been waiting a long time for," she said.
Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park are two neighbourhoods lacking in community space and resources so for some the project could have seemed ambitious, but Dasoo said she was optimistic this day would come. She said her dream - and that of so many others in the community - was finally coming true.
"This is really needed. This is for the community, not just the school," she said. "This is a great day. You see how excited the kids are."