The couple who gave birth to the new ice rink

THEY KICK STARTED IT ALL: Peter and Cathy Clark donated $1 million in 2010 to help build a second ice rink at Leaside Memorial Community Gardens. On hand for the cake cutting are Don Valley West MP John Carmichael, left, and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Councillor John Parker, at right.
The Leaside couple whose anonymous $1 million donation in 2010 kick started the fundraising campaign for the Leaside Memorial Community Gardens’ second rink has come forward for the first time.Peter and Cathy Clark were on-hand Oct. 5 with about 500 other people when they were thanked by Arena Expansion Committee chair Paul Mercer during the opening ceremonies for the new rink.

“They took a risk when none of this was guaranteed,” said Mercer, “because they believe that sport plays a key role in the health and well-being of young people.”

New Leaside Arena Ready To Open

After years of planning and private fundraising, the much needed ice surface in Toronto will be available for hockey and figure skating as of this weekend. Mark McAllister reports. Global Toronto

One of few ice pads making money

Did you know that of the 52 ice pads in Toronto, only four of them recently have broken even or made money – and Leaside Memorial Community Gardens is one of those four? Quite an achievement!

As you know, Leaside Gardens has a board of management who hire a general manager – in this case, Henry Stachelbeck, who has been with the Gardens for 25 years. Under him are Anna Donadio, the banquet hall coordinator/staff support assistant (18 years) and three arena pool operators – Jim Swartz (30 years), Ed Newell (26 years) and Mario Zinga (23 years), along with 17 part-timers who are everything from rink guards to bartenders.

Click here to read the full article.

Old rink, new name

When the expanded Leaside Gardens opens this fall, the original ice surface will be known thereafter as the Bert F. Grant Rink in recognition of the $250,000 legacy gift made by his three children in his honour.

Who was Bert F. Grant?

He was president and later chairman of what is today known as the Crestview Group of Companies. In the early 1950s, as Lawrence Construction, this company built the Crestview apartments and the homes on both sides of Leacrest Rd., the long parcel of land in South Leaside on the brow of the Don Valley, south of Moore between Pottery Rd. and backing on to the Leaside Gardens arena property.

Click here to read the full article.

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: or 416-467-6335 (mobile), or

Contact Paul Mercer directly:

Paul Mercer, Chair of the Leaside Arena Expansion Committee: or 416-464-2156 (mobile)

Push for Second Leaside Icepad

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Supporters raising funds through spring and summer.

As the past couple of months have shown, nothing brings Canadians closer together than hockey.

That goes double for Leaside.

Last year, a fundraising campaign was started to help raise money for a second ice pad at the constantly booked Leaside Gardens Arena. In addition to the fundraising efforts of the arena’s three main user groups, the Leaside Hockey Association, the Leaside Skating Club and Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey, several other members of the community have launched their own fundraising initiatives.

Local real estate broker Patrick Rocca organized a barbecue in the late spring with the help of area merchants.

“We had a jumping castle, face painting, it was more a family thing,” said Rocca. “The purpose was to raise some funds.

“We were hoping to raise $4,000–5,000, which we did.”

For Rocca, the event served to help raise awareness of the expansion project and its financial needs. He knows as well as anyone how badly the community wants a new rink. Rocca’s son played hockey at Leaside but has since joined another league.
“When he did play for Leaside I don’t think he played a home game in Leaside,” he said. “So there’s need for that second ice pad.”

This summer, the Fox and Fiddle at 190 Laird Dr. will be donating 10 percent of all proceeds toward the arena expansion. Owner and manager Param Ratna said his goal is to raise a minimum of $25,000 for the project.

“I told them even if I don’t reach ($25,000) still I’m going to give ($25,000),” he said. “Before Aug. 1, I’m trying to get $15,000.”

Ratna, who also lends his hand in fundraisers for Bessborough Public School, local baseball teams and the Rotary Club, said that if anyone else wanted to use his restaurant to host a fundraiser for the Gardens, they are welcome to do so.

“I’ve been here seven years,” Ratna said. “All Leaside people look after me so I have to look after them. I’m so happy to do that.”

Area councillor John Parker said he is happy to see how involved the neighbourhood has become in this project but said he is not the least bit surprised.

“It’s very encouraging and inspiring in many ways,” he said. “I’m very impressed by the response we’ve had from the community, the enthusiasm we’ve had from the community.

“This isn’t the first time. Leaside has shown this kind of spirit for generations.”

Parker has even rolled up his sleeves and gotten involved in the fundraising efforts himself. On June 11, he hit the streets with about 40 volunteers to raise money and awareness for the project.

Through cash and cheques the group gathered nearly $10,000 on that day alone, according to Allan Williams of the project’s fundraising committee. That figure could potentially climb higher once the numbers from both online and paper donation forms handed out on that day are factored in to the calculation.

Chair of the expansion committee, Paul Mercer, said that a professional fundraising company had been hired as a consultant to help the project reach its goal of raising $2.5 million by the end of this summer.

So far, just over $1.9 million has been raised, but thanks to some creative strategies Mercer said the project is on schedule to hit its goal. Individuals and corporations are now able to purchase the naming rights to various areas of the Gardens.

“There are a number of different areas within the arena that we have highlighted and have put a price tag on it,” Mercer said.

“We do have the large ones that are available such as the naming of the existing arena, the naming of the new arena, the concession stand and the zamboni.”

As previously reported in the Town Crier, the naming rights to dressing room number 5 are sought after by the family of the late John Creighton, a local businessman and hockey fan. A fundraiser for that purpose was held at Originals Restaurant at 1660 Bayview Ave. and raised about $12,000 of the $25,000 needed to ensure that there will be a Creighton dressing room.

If it is built, the second ice pad at the Leaside Gardens arena will be the first new rink the city has built in 38 years. So far, Mercer said everything seems to be going according to plan.
“We’re still on target to be able to put a shovel in the ground in September of this year and then open in September of 2012,” Mercer said.


Help Raise $25,000 for The Leaside Arena Expansion Project

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Yuk Yuks Event raises $40,000 to promote Arena Expansion Project

Toronto, ON.  February 4, 2011 – Laughter resonated through the Leaside Community at the second “Laugh out Loud in Leaside” comedy evening at the On the Park Events and Conference Centre on Friday January 28, 2011.

United in the goal of building a second ice pad in their community, Leaside residents and business owners gathered to support the fundraising campaign with a chuckle.  The Laugh out Loud in Leaside Comedy Night Fundraiser was conceived and organized by Leaside resident and realtor Charlene Kalia and a few very dedicated Leaside women. “It is amazing to watch the community rally around this initiative so enthusiastically,” said Charlene Kalia. “We’ve overcome several major hurdles during this rink expansion initiative, none more critical than raising capital. Residents and community stakeholders are passionate about making the second ice rink a reality,” she said.

The fundraiser featured local residents John Oakley (AM640 Talk Radio Host) conducting the live auction and Actor/Comedian David Sparrow as the MC for the evening.  Comedians from Yuk Yuk’s played to a capacity crowd.

The event raised more than $40,000 which will be used to promote the building of the second ice pad.  The arena expansion is a $9.5 million project of which $7 million is a recoverable loan undertaken by the city and $2.5 million is to be raised the user groups and the community.  The project will come before council as part of the 2011 capital plan in February.  Mayor Rob Ford expressed his support of community led initiatives such as the Laugh Out Loud in Leaside fundraiser in support of the arena expansion.

The current single pad is one of the busiest in the city of Toronto.  A second rink in the Leaside community would be a major step towards addressing the serious ice shortage in the City of Toronto. The Leaside Board has been working to twin this facility for the past 13 years. All proceeds will be used to help the arena board promote the building of the 2nd pad.  The sold-out event included political leaders:  Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, Ward 26 City Councillor John Parker, Toronto Budget Chief and Ward 39 City Councillor Mike Del Grande, MPP and Minister of Transportation Kathleen Wynne, and MP Rob Oliphant.

For more information about the fundraiser:
Charlene Kalia

For more information about other initiatives:
Paul Mercer
Chair, Leaside Memorial Community Gardens Expansion Committee

Leaside rink users committed to expansion plan

Community fundraisinig takes place for second ice pad

If all goes as planned, children in Leaside won’t have to be turned away from ice sports after September 2012. Representatives from Leaside Memorial Gardens, the Leaside Hockey Association, the Leaside Skating Club, and the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association gathered at the arena Friday morning to officially launch the fundraising campaign for the expansion project.

City council had approved a $7 million loan to cover the majority of the $9.5 price tag with the community expected to raise the rest. Of the $2.5 million community portion, $1.4 million has already been raised.

“This project will mean more ice time for more kids closer to home,” said Paul Mercer, chairperson of the Arena Expansion Committee.

“That’s the vision. Now we need the community to rally behind that vision and come up with the remaining funds needed to make this project a reality.”

The plan to twin the 60-year-old arena on Millwood Road began in 1998 and with the project being added to the city’s capital budget it is finally coming to fruition.

“We come here now 12 years later and we can see the goal line,” Mercer said. “We’re getting really, really close to where we need to be.”

The project got a kick start in 2010 when a local family stepped forward with an anonymous donation that enabled the hiring of an architect and planning work with city officials to begin.

The city contribution will come from a city-guaranteed loan to be repaid through future operating revenues.

“This is an opportunity for the city to play a role without dipping into the taxpayers’ pockets,” said Don Valley West Councillor John Parker. “I do see this as a model of how other facilities can be built in the future.”

This is the first municipal arena to be built in the city in 30 years.

The expansion committee is on track to have a shovel in the ground in August and the second pad finished in September of next year – just in time for the 2012 ice season to begin.

The user groups are ecstatic at the thought.

“I am delighted. I’ve got hundreds of players who’ve never played a game here,” said Ron Baker, president of the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association.

With about 1,000 players the association is large, but it’s grown all that it can for now.

“I do know that every year if we get a couple more hours of ice here and there we fill it instantly…We always have a waiting list,” Baker said.

This past weekend the association hosted a hockey tournament where 100 teams from around the province came to town; the tournament had to take place at 17 different rinks across the city. All proceeds from the tournament’s silent auction were pledged to the arena expansion.

Baker said the association has also agreed to the capital surcharge to pay back the city loan.

“We’re completely committed to this,” he said.

That’s the sentiment of all the user groups.

“We think we can raise a significant amount of money from our membership,” said Derek Woods, the president of the Leaside Hockey Association.

The association has installed a fundraising chairperson and the campaign launched in January.

Currently the club has just 20 per cent of its annual ice requirements met at the local rink.

“The hope is with twin pads we can improve the quality and quantity of these programs,” Woods said.

Parents have to drive their children to practice and games at rinks in Markham, Vaughan and Etobicoke where ice is available. Because of this and the desire to have their children play close to home, Woods believes his members will step up to assist with the fundraising.

One way community members can support the arena is through the GiveGet program where four per cent of the sale of gift cards will be contributed to the expansion project. So far Esso is on board and more businesses are expected to sign up.

Visit for more information.


Leaside Arena Launches Fundraising Campaign for Second Rink

<em “mso-bidi-font-style:=””>Organisers are already more than halfway towards the $2.5 million community portion of the project costs

11 March 2011

Today the Leaside Gardens Arena Board officially launched its campaign to raise the community portion of the cost of building the second rink at Leaside Gardens.

“This project will mean more ice time for more kids closer to home,” said Paul Mercer, Chair of the Arena Expansion Committee.  “That’s the vision.  Now we need the community to rally behind that vision and come up with the remaining funds needed to make this project a reality.”

City Council recently approved the arena expansion project 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 local community.

Efforts to raise the $2.5 million have been underway for several months already Mercer said.  And through a combination of one large anonymous donation, the commitments of the three partner groups, and appeals by the fundraising team to business and community leaders, $1.4 million has already been raised.

Ward 26 Councillor John Parker said the shared funding model was an innovative solution in a time of budget restraint.  “It’s only fair that those who will use this new rink the most bear some portion of the cost of building it,” he said.  “That means not just families from Leaside but also from Riverdale, other parts of old East York, and neighbourhoods west of Bayview Avenue for whom Leaside Gardens is their closest local community rink.”

Parker urged local families to make a financial contribution and to do so quickly.  “We need to raise a million dollars by August 1st to keep the project on track for a fall 2012 opening” Parker said.

The arena’s three primary partner associations (the Leaside Hockey Association, the Leaside Skating Club, and the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association) are fully engaged in the expansion project and representatives from each group were on hand to share their vision for what the second rink will mean for the 2,500 kids currently participating in their programs.  “We will be able to offer practices for our house league teams and the potential of home games at Leaside Gardens for our select and GTHL teams,” said Derek Woods, President of the LHA, “and better programming in our hockey school.”

Bridget Child, President of the Leaside Skating Club, said “For us, the second rink means we’ll be able to expand our CanSkate programs offering more opportunities to kids from Leaside and Riverdale and the other local neighbourhoods to learn to skate.  And it’s a chance to add summer programming as well.”

Ron Baker, President of the TLGHA said, “The second rink means that we’ll no longer have to turn away girls who want to play hockey, and they won’t have to travel so far to get on the ice.  That will make a real difference in the quality of the hockey experience for these girls and their families.”

Expansion Committee Chair Paul Mercer said they are using all available means to raise awareness about the project and to encourage local residents to contribute.  He pointed to the new billboard in the arena parking lot and said there will be other advertising in the weeks ahead.  There are plans to reach every door in the catchment area served by Leaside Gardens.  There is also a Facebook page and a Twitter feed which can be accessed through the website at

Donors can make their tax-deductible donation through the East York Foundation, which is handling donations for the project – see the website for details.  In addition, people can participate in the “Give Get” program where a portion of every purchase of a tank of gas or at selected local merchants goes to the expansion project.  Some additional details on donor recognition and on “Give Get” are attached.

<em “mso-bidi-font-style:=””>Background

  • The expansion proposal approved by City Council 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 local community.
  • The Leaside Arena Expansion Committee, chaired by Paul Mercer, includes a Revenue Generation Committee, chaired by arena board member Charlene Kalia, which has been working with our three primary partner groups – the Leaside Hockey Association, the Leaside Skating Club and the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association – and other local leaders to lay a solid foundation for the fundraising campaign being officially launched today.
  • A generous financial contribution made in the summer of 2010 by an anonymous local family eager to jump-start the arena expansion project was the start of the community fundraising campaign.  Between this donation, the commitments of our three partner groups, and appeals by the fundraising team to local business and community leaders, we have now raised $1.4 million.
  • The donor family did their part by expediting the process; City Council has now done its part by approving the project and providing the $7 Million loan; now it is up to the Leaside Arena community – including the primary partner groups and the wider community – to do its part.  It’s critical that commitments totalling $2.5 million be identified prior to August 1st, 2011 to ensure the project goes ahead and stays on schedule for completion in August 2012
  • Tax-deductible donations may be made through the East York Foundation, the charitable organisation that is facilitating the processing of contributions on behalf of the Leaside Arena Expansion Committee.
  • The expansion committee has developed a list of naming opportunities in the new facility to recognise largest financial contributions of between $10,000 and $250,000.  Details about naming opportunities may be found on the Arena Expansion Committee Website
  • All donations of $1,000 or more will be permanently recognised on a Donor Recognition Wall which will be prominently displayed in the new arena.

<em “mso-bidi-font-style:=””>The Give Get Program

  • GiveGet is a new type of social networking platform where individuals, businesses and charities collaborate with each other by exchanging items of value in ways that all parties win.  The way it works is simple yet innovative.  Businesses list items they would like to sell on, such as empty seats, excess inventory, new products or items they would like consumers to buy directly. These businesses agree to sell their goods and services to GiveGet at a privately discounted price – often approaching 50% off the everyday retail price.  To protect the businesses’ brand and public pricing levels, GiveGet only offers these items for purchase on at their everyday retail price. 
  • When consumers visit the GiveGet site and purchase an item at the everyday price, they also “Get” all or part of another item they want from the site for free in return.  The benefit achieved will go in the form of a donation to the Leaside Arena Expansion.  The partnership between GiveGet and the Leaside Arena Expansion works in three ways:
  1. With the Esso Card through regular purchasing of gas, a percentage of the sale is donated to the arena.  For example, if you spend $1,000 on gas, $40 will go to the arena expansion project.
  2. A network of Leaside businesses – a percentage of purchasing at regular price will go to the arena fund.  (The list of participating local businesses will be available shortly)
  3. Through online purchases of gift items as described on the GiveGet website.
  • More information is available at where you can sign up and also register your email address to receive further information, for example, as the list of participating Leaside merchants becomes available.

For more on the Leaside Arena Expansion Project please Contact Us:

Arena Expansion Committee Chair Paul Mercer, 416-464-2156 or

Or Ward 26 Councillor John Parker, 416-392-0215 or