First Gardens cost $395,000

All of us now know that the construction costs of the second ice rink at the Leaside Memorial Community Gardens is certain to exceed the originally estimated $12.2 million.

What many of us may not know, however, is the origin of the Memorial Gardens.

lt started in 1947 when the Leaside Lions and the Leaside Rotary club began raising money for a sports and community centre to commemorate Leasiders and others who had served in the recently ended Second World War.

The first site suggested was Trace Manes Park, but because of problems with the underground water stream running through that location, the present site was finally chosen.

The project, which then included only the arena and the auditorium, was approved by Leaside Town Council in 1951. The original building cost was $395,000, of which almost $160,000 was raised by the service clubs, individuals and local business.

At that time none of these donations were tax deductible. The balance was paid out of municipal tax revenue. A portion financed by a bond issue was fully repaid in 1973.

ln 1957 the swimming pool was added at an approximate cost of $153,000, of which the province paid $5,000 and the town $25,000. The balance came from surplus Gardens’ revenue.

The curling rink, under a separate board of management, was built in 1962.

The Gardens is administered by an unpaid volunteer board of management, formerly appointed by Leaside council and then East York council. Now it’s appointed by Toronto City Council for a four-year term.

The current board members are Brooke Biscoe (chair), Paul Burns, Allan Williams, Charlene Kalia, Ray White, Jeff Dover, Elaine Snider, Barry Samuel and Cheryl Bannier. Past board chair Paul Mercer heads the construction committee.

Over the years the board has
set rates for the use of the facilities that have invariably covered operating costs. Since amalgamation, no operating subsidies are paid to the Gardens by municipal taxpayers.

We are most fortunate to have these facilities and the community volunteers who administer them.

Leaside Memorial Community Gardens helps to make our community the desirable place it is to live in and raise a family. The volunteers are part of the great Leaside tradition of community involvement and participation.

About Alan Redway 30 Articles
Alan Redway is a retired lawyer, born in Toronto, with a degree in Commerce and Finance from the University of Toronto and a law degree from Osgoode Hall law School. Mr. Redway served for ten years on the council of the Borough of East York, six of those years as the Mayor of East York and a member of Metropolitan Toronto Council and Executive Committee. Later he was elected to the parliament of Canada where he served for almost ten years as a Progressive Conservative member of the House of Commons and as Minister of State (Housing). He has written for Leaside Life and the East York Chronicle. In 2014 he published his first book, "Governing Toronto: Bringing back the city that worked."