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.”
Their donation enabled the hiring of an architect.
“We believe that keeping kids active promotes healthy bodies and healthy minds,” said Peter Clark. “And I found it frustrating that the available facilities for kids to participate in sports lag so far behind the needs of the community. We were keen to do something about it here in Leaside.”
The Clarks have two sons, now aged 24 and 21, who both played house league hockey at Leaside Gardens, in addition to playing soccer, and experienced first-hand the shortage of local ice.
“Supporting the arena project was in recognition of an obvious need,” said Peter Clark. “Our boys have both gone off to university, so this is too late to benefit them, but maybe our grandchildren…?”
Peter Clark, a founding partner of Sprucegrove Investment Management, pointing out that this is the first new publicly-owned arena to be built in Toronto in almost 40 years, said, “This project has been a kind of public-private partnership. And it worked; it’s been successful. I’m hopeful that this can become a model used elsewhere in the city. Someone first had to step up and get things going.”
“The new arena is absolutely gorgeous,” said Cathy Clark, “and it’s wonderful to see it finally open. We’re thrilled to think of the number of kids who will be able to play hockey and skate here for years to come.”
From the time that Clark first met with Mercer to discuss the potential donation, he told him he believed it was important that the new arena use the latest in environmental technologies.
“I’m very pleased to see the ‘green’ elements that have been included: cisterns for rainwater, features for storm-water management, and the green roof. I’m hopeful that solar panels can be added at some point down the road,” said Clark.
The public meeting room in the new arena is named for Sprucegrove Investment Management in recognition of the donation by the Clarks and by others involved in the company.
Mercer thanked all the others involved, “from the few visionaries 14 years ago who saw the need for a second rink and believed we could make it happen, to all those who invested countless volunteer hours, especially in the past four years on fundraising, working with the architects, city officials and contractors, and the more than 1,000 local families and businesses whose donations made this day possible.”
The official ribbon cutting followed the speeches.