Saturday, December 08, 2007
Will South Etobicoke ever get a REAL community centre?
After Thursday's dog & pony show with the City Of Toronto Parks & Recreation staff, the answer is probably not. This was at 7PM at the Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School. This is what happens when you're dealing with shortsighted myopic bureaucrats who are more interested in serving their own agenda instead of serving the community. And the end result is likely to cost Councillor Mark Grimes his job in the next civic election due to his inaction.
The Etobicoke Lakeshore community wants a real community centre. We have $1.8M seed money from developer Daniels Corp. The city made a deal several years ago to use that money to build what they are calling The Ken Cox Community Centre. Of course that's not what it is. The name is a smokescreen to make it appear that the city is actually doing something for the community when they're actually not doing much of anything. Then they can pat themselves on the back. Someone should have told them that a pat on the back is 18 inches from a kick in the pants. This "community centre" is essentially an extension to the school gym. And the biggest joke is it's not even a full size basketball court. It will be impossible to run diverse programs in this space. It is designed to make things business as usual for Parks & Rec. staff. That's the most important thing to them.
One has to wonder why these people even bothered with this dog & pony show when they knew what the reception would be and they didn't intend to listen to the community. Of course the explanation is that this is what $1.8M will buy. But an event occurred that should have changed the agenda. That was the announcement that the Toronto Maple Leafs are building a new practice arena and will leave the Lakeshore Lions Arena on Birmingham St. The site is owned by the Toronto District School Board. Common sense says this space should be considered as the site for a community centre. It's simply a much larger building and more diverse programs could be run in that space. The building was not available when the current deal was made.
I have been involved in a program at LAMP to reverse this decision and consider the Lakeshore Lions Arena for the community centre. All we want is the space and the $1.8M intended to help build a community centre. Of course we know that isn't enough money so our plan was to fund it privately and operate it ourselves. So why isn't the city looking at this alternative? Well, Mark Grimes has been silent. He's letting the Parks & Rec. staff take all the heat for this. He'll get his. The Parks & Rec. agenda is that they lose control if we arrange private funding. And that's what this is about. We're thinking outside the box and they want to keep the impenetrable bureaucratic status quo. Of course that doesn't make any sense.
The message from the Parks & Rec. staff is this plan is written in stone. We're getting this excuse for a "community centre" despite the fact that they know it's not adequate. They prefer to lie and give lame excuses instead of using logic & common sense. Government bureaucrats don't live in the real world. They live in a parallel universe that has no relation to reality. When a presentation is received as poorly as this, why would anyone continue on this disastrous course? The answer is they care more about adhering to their own bureaucratic agenda than the real needs of the community. They won't admit that or anything else but we know the truth. Of course common sense could still prevail and the desicion could still be reversed but will it?