Letter to the Leaside Community – May 2011

Dear Neighbour,

For the thousands of kids who have skated and played hockey here since 1951, Leaside Gardens is a cherished focal point in the landscape of their memory.

The Leaside Skating Club, Leaside Hockey Association, and Leaside Toronto Girls Hockey Association, whose programs together account for more than 95% of our prime-time ice time usage, have long realised that far more kids want to participate than can be accommodated on our existing single ice pad. Building a second rink at Leaside Gardens has been our vision since the 1990s.

Although slow to take off, the Arena Expansion Project has moved forward quickly in the past two years. In February Toronto City Council approved a proposal to build the second rink at an approximate cost of $9.5 million of which $7 million will come from a city-guaranteed loan, and $2.5 million must be raised by the local community and our partner associations.

Leaside Gardens was originally financed through the efforts of local organisations including all the home and school associations, church groups and service clubs who conducted a door-to-door canvass of every home in the area. It is only appropriate that the local community, which will benefit most directly from the second rink, again be asked to raise a portion of the cost of building it.

We have already raised more than $1.9 million of the $2.5 million community fundraising goal through the efforts of our partner associations, area businesses and individuals, and with a very generous donation from a local family wishing to remain anonymous. Now I am asking you, as a member of our community, to make a financial commitment towards making our shared vision of more ice time for more kids closer to home a reality. We need to reach our target before August 1st in order to stay on track for starting construction this fall and opening in time for September 2012.

Included is a project summary sheet as well as a reply card and return envelope with which you can make your contribution. Donations are tax-deductible and can be made to “East York Foundation (Leaside Arena Expansion Project).” For information on naming opportunities within the new rink, donor recognition plans, or to contact me or any other member of the Arena Expansion Committee directly with any questions or comments.

Thank you in advance for your support of this most worthwhile community project.

Paul Mercer, Chair
Leaside Arena Expansion Committee.

Leaside Arena Expansion Project – Background

Spring 2011

• Leaside Memorial Community Gardens (Leaside Gardens) was opened in 1951 by the Town of Leaside following a successful community fundraising campaign involving a dozen community organisations and with the leadership of the Leaside Rotary and Lions Clubs.

• For sixty years Leaside Gardens has been operated on behalf of the municipality by a volunteer Board of Management (arena board) made up of local community members. Leaside Gardens serves not just Leaside but also the surrounding neighbourhoods, including those in the former Borough of East York. The current arena board chair is Brooke Biscoe.

• 100% of “prime-time” ice (defined as Mon–Fri, 5 pm–11 pm; and Sat & Sun, 6 am–11 pm) is fully booked with 95% devoted to “youth non-competitive” use by one of our three long-term primary partner groups: the Leaside Skating Club (who have been with us since 1951); the Leaside Hockey Association (1952),
and the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association (1974). LMCG has the highest ice usage rate, including non prime-time hours, of any municipal arena in Toronto.

• All three primary partner groups need much more ice time than can be accommodated at Leaside Gardens and have to rent a large portion of their ice requirements from other municipal and commercial rinks. In fact, for some select and competitive teams in these organisations, virtually none of their ice time is actually at their “home” arena.

• Recognising the strong demand for more ice, the arena board began discussions about building a second rink more than a decade ago. Planning began to accelerate in 2009 when the City of Toronto purchased the adjacent property (formerly home to the Ontario Film Review Board) on which the second pad will be built. In 2010 an anonymous donation from a local family eager to jump-start the process en abled the arena board to hire an architect and begin working with city officials on detailed design issues even before knowing with certainty whether city council would ultimately give its approval to the project.

• The expansion proposal approved by Toronto City Council on February 24th 2011 calls for building the second rink at an estimated cost of $9.5 Million of which $7 Million will come from a city-guaranteed loan to be repaid through future operating revenues, and $2.5 Million must be raised by the primary partner groups and the community. This will be the first new rink to be built by the city in more than thirty years.

• Between the original anonymous donation, the commitments of our three partner groups, and appeals by the fundraising team to local business and community leaders, the expansion committee has now raised over $1.9 million of the needed $2.5 representing the community portion of the cost.

• With the vision of “More ice time for more kids closer to home” the expansion committee and partner groups are currently engaged in an awareness-raising campaign to communicate what the new rink will mean for the young people of our local community. We also want financial contributions in order to help us reach our community fundraising goal before August 1st in order to stay on track for beginning construction in the late summer of 2011 and opening the new rink in September 2012.

• Information about the project and on the variety of ways in which individuals can make their contribution, may be found at www.leasidearena.com. One ‘pain-free’ way to contribute is through the “GiveGet” program where a portion of the cost every time you fill up your car with gas or make a purchase at selected local merchants goes to support the arena expansion project.

• You can follow the Leaside Arena Expansion Project on Facebook: www.facebook.com/leasiderink2 and on Twitter by searching for @leasiderinktwo.