Leaside Breaks Ground on First New City Rink in Over 40 Years

On Saturday morning the Leaside Arena Expansion Committee officially broke ground to begin construction of the second rink at Leaside Gardens. The ceremony was hosted by AM640 Radio host John Oakley — a local Leaside resident — and included members of the expansion committee, local politicians from all levels, and representatives from the construction company and the City of Toronto. The presidents and a current player from each of the Leaside Hockey Association, the Leaside Skating Club and the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association also participated.

Expansion Committee Chair Paul Mercer thanked all the donors and volunteers who have worked on this project for so long and who helped get to this point of breaking ground. Arena Board Chair Brooke Biscoe said that the original Leaside Gardens was built through the volunteer financial contributions of Leaside Residents more than sixty years ago and also thanked the city officials who have worked on the project. Charlene Kalia thanked the family of Bert F. Grant which has just made a major donation of $250,000 and announced that the existing rink will be named in his memory when the new facility opens. MPP Kathleen Wynne said that infrastructure is more than just roads and bridges, it’s also community facilities like the arenas and said she was pleased that the province was able to be involved by loaning money to the project. Local Toronto Councillor John Parker said this was a great model for future community projects and thanked all those City officials who worked so hard. MP John Carmichael said he was pleased to have been personally involved with the fundraising committee and focused on the volunteer effort needed to complete a project like this — he presented Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals for volunteer service to Paul Mercer, Brooke Biscoe and Charlene Kalia.

The City of Toronto has awarded the contract to build the second rink to Aquicon Construction and it is expected that construction will begin in July with the new rink being ready for use beginning in September 2013.

Description of the attached photo:
“Participating in the Ground-Breaking Ceremony for the second rink at Leaside Gardens were from left: Kathleen Wynne, MPP for Don Valley West, Paul Mercer, Chair of the Leaside Arena Expansion Committee, Brooke Biscoe, Chair of the Arena Board, John Parker, Councillor for Ward 26, and John Carmichael, MP for Don Valley West.” Credit for the photo goes to Hiep Vu.

Quick Facts:

– The Arena Board and user groups at Leaside Gardens have been talking about building a second rink at least as far back as 1999.

– The City of Toronto purchased the property of the former Ontario Film Review Board in 2010 on which the new rink will be built.

– The Expansion Committee committed to raising $2.5 million from the local community in order to get City Council approval.

– The rest of the funding for the project comes from a $7.5 million loan from the City to be paid back from future operating revenue, and a $1.5 million loan from Infrastructure Ontario.

– Community fundraising will continue through the construction phase of the project to reduce financing costs and keep ice rates down into the future.

For further information, or to arrange an opportunity to speak with spokesperson Paul Mercer, contact:

Allan Williams, Chair, Community Relations Committee of the Arena Board:
allan@proximuscanada.com or 416-467-6335 (mobile), or

Contact Paul Mercer directly:

Paul Mercer, Chair of the Leaside Arena Expansion Committee:
paul.mercer@graniteclaims.com or 416-464-2156 (mobile)