Bloor West Kids being short-changed?

Are there sports programs you’ve tried to find for your kids that just aren’t available at Swansea, Annette, or Keele Community Centres? Are those programs only available a drive away at other Parks and Recreation facilities in other neighbourhoods?

Bloor West resident Andrew Mahoney says “yes” to both questions, and is looking for local parents who are similarly frustrated, because he’s been told that the programs would be offered if the demand were there.

Mahoney has taken the issue up with Parks and Rec managers and with Ward 13 Councillor Bill Saundercook, who are offering to meet with parents from the area to discuss what sports programs they would like to see offered in our neighbourhood.

Andrew Mahoney asks that you contact him directly at diniandoj@yahoo.com. He will be meeting with City staff March 8th. Please share your views here, as well (click Comments below to add your thoughts) .

Parks and Recreation Manger Mike McCluskey told the BWVRA that they will start planning for the Fall programs shortly, and are happy to hear from local residents. He concedes there may be some “gaps” in program offerings, but notes that our area is limited because all three Rec Centers are shared with the shools they adjoin.

2 thoughts on “Bloor West Kids being short-changed?

  1. Having raised two children in the Bloor West area the past 14 years, I agree that the selection for kids between about age 4 and 19 is very poor. I check the parks and rec program guide regularly – and am regularly frustrated.

    One that would be popular (but you have to give it time and publicity for people to find out about it!) would be BADMINTON. Kids love this, and it’s a great alternative to those are discouraged by tennis.

    Thanks,

    Aaron Lipson

  2. Hi Andrew:

    I am very frustrated with the state of the community
    centres in our area. Programming and facilities management are in a bad state. See below, my letter to Mr. Miller and and the response I received. Politics speaks in numbers. We should bring back the idea of having a volunteer community Board of Directors in place to manage separate community centres.(which was in place pre-Mike Harris). I have yet to find, at the municipal level, anyone who can actually take some tangible action. They seem to have the art of “empty letter composition down to a science.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: “Kevin Bowser”

    Cc: “Anne Valliere” ; “David Miller”
    ; “Lesley Price” ; “Michael
    Mccluskey” ; “Winnie Li”
    Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2005 12:11 PM
    Subject: Re: Fwd: Annette Community Centre

    Dear Cindy:

    I have been asked to respond to the e-mail you sent to Mayor Miller
    regarding your concerns at Annette Community Centre.

    I have had an opportunity to review your issues with our Recreation
    Facilities Supervisor, Michael McCluskey, and he in turn has spoken to the
    custodial staff and Recreationist at the site.

    As you are aware, Annette Community Centre is an older facility, was
    initiated as a joint project with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB).
    Currently, some of the issues that you identified in your e-mail such as
    heating problems in particular during the spring and fall are a direct
    result of shared plant facilities that are maintained by Board of Education
    staff. We have a good working relationship with the caretakers in the
    school, however, we do struggle in particular when there is significant
    changes in weather to adjust the heating and/or cooling. Staff have
    submitted a capital request for various upgrades in the building similar to
    the $3M upgrade that recently happened at Trinity Bellwoods. It is our hope
    that in time Annette Community Centre will be priorized and will have
    dollars made available for renovations and cosmetic upgrades.

    In 1997/’98 there was a capital program at Annette that included various
    projects such as increasing accessibility in the building to include an
    elevator to service all three floors, renovations to allow for those with
    disabilities to use the shower/change rooms and addition of washrooms on the
    upper levels.

    In addition, the facility receives constant minor maintenance programs and
    upgrades to include painting, lighting upgrades, replacement of rusted
    cubicles in change rooms and, of course, the on-going upgrades required for
    computers and phone in the facility that allows us to provide the customer
    service functions at the building. In January 2005, the building opened
    with a new weight room facility that was air-conditioned that provided a
    space with weight equipment to allow for youth training.

    The custodians at the facility, on a regular basis each day, are replacing
    the toilet paper that is consumed quickly that may be as a result of being a
    neighbour to the school. In addition, automatic air fresheners have been
    installed in the washrooms and change rooms and, several times per year,
    staff arrange for the floor drains to be snaked in the facility to improve
    the old infrastructure.

    The building is inspected on a regular basis by Public Health staff, pool
    inspectors and our Health & Safety Committee and action is taken immediately by staff at the site.

    Regarding your issues on programs at the facility, Annette has adjusted to
    the change in fees that were implemented as a result of amalgamation. There has also been some realigning of programs at the site and more specialized programs have been offered. These would include ballet classes, creative dance and fitness “C” passes and speciality fitness classes for adults.
    Introduction of private piano lessons, workshops and additional seniors’
    programs have been successful. The pool program has converted to the new Ultra Swim program which has been popular in the community and we have seen our greatest increase with small permits such as birthday parties, community meetings, sports leagues and music programs for babies. The Recreationists at the site have introduced a number of new initiatives this fall and we are hoping that the community register and take advantage of these exciting new programs.

    I would also like to mention that there are waiting lists for a number of
    programs at Annette and we are always looking for additional space and
    qualified staff in order to offer these programs.

    We appreciate your e-mail and have shared your concerns with staff at the
    site. Our Recreationists are working closely with the community and are
    prepared to offer new programs to address community needs. Our minor
    capital program and custodians will work hard with the limited funds and
    resources they have to continue to keep the building safe and clean for our
    users.

    Thank you again for your e-mail. If you should have any further questions
    or concerns about Annette Community Centre, I would suggest that you contact
    our Recreation Facilities Supervisor, Michael McCluskey, who can be reached
    at 416-392-0196 or feel free to contact him by e-mail at
    mmcclusk@toronto.ca.

    I hope that this information is helpful and I encourage you and your family
    to continue to use programs either at Annette or any of the other recreation
    centres throughout the District.

    Sincerely,

    W. N. Kevin Bowser
    Manager of Parks & Recreation
    West District – East Region
    kbows@toronto.ca

    Dear Mr. Miller:

    I have always been a strong supporter of your campaigns and live in your
    neighbourhood. On Sunday, I attended a birthday party for a four year old and talked to various “mothers” in the area about the Annette Community Centre. I found out that I am not the only individual totally appalled by the state of the Annette Community Centre. This community centre needs to be overhauled and I need your help. I know that there are many individual families in the community that would LOVE to see a community centre that is at par with centres like Trinity Bellwoods.

    Here are the various complaints:

    1) Most of the programs (kids programs) are poorly run and badly managed
    and the parents have lost interest in this centre. Everything from the
    Toddler programs to the dance and sports programs have noted deficiencies.
    2) the location for some of the dance progams is on a lino-tiled concrete
    base floor which is “very unhealthy and possibly damaging” according to a
    Doctor. of Radiology in the area. This parent pulled their daughter out of
    ballet as it is damaging to the childs’ bones.
    3) the swimming pool change area is often without toilet paper, soap and
    nearly always smells like urine. (remember SARS and hygiene related issues?)
    and when the staff is told about it, well, no improvement!
    4) the building is underutilized because it is such a “dump”. Damaged
    ceiling tiles, ripped fabric on furniture, dingy hallways, the second and
    third floors are boiling hot in the winter and almost never used for
    anything because of it’s state of disrepair – this building needs to be
    gutted and re-built to represent the face of our community!
    5) the swimming pool staff show little interest in what they are doing. I
    send my kids to Runneymede Collegiate Institute for swimming lessons even though Annette is two blocks away because at Runneymede, the staff actually pay attention to the kids. The staff at Annette aren’t paying attention to the little swimmers (one mother I know saw a child nearly drown at Annette because the staff weren’t paying attention). I have noticed that during “free swim”, the lifeguards are often busy chatting, not watching.

    How can we revive this centre back to life and turn it into a vibrant,
    popular and modern facility? What support do you need from the community
    (I’ve already got many supporters)? What kinds of funding options are
    available from the city’s point of view? And finally, if we don’t improve
    community centres and community based programs in our area, what will our teenagers be doing? (perhaps this is why there is so much graffiti in
    the neighbourhood – lack of proper facilities? The schools and parks are
    constantly riddled with graffiti) There are many children in this area who
    will all be teens within the next ten years. Let’s solve this problem
    before it becomes worse.

    I thank you for your attention to this matter.

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