Earl Bales Park Welcomes Community Centre Expansion

The Earl Bales Community Centre is in the process of a 4.5-million-dollar expansion. The City of Toronto is redeveloping the property in order to upgrade how the building functions and benefits the community. Construction began this past June, and is expected to wrap-up by summer 2018.

Earl Bales is the fourth largest park in Toronto, known for being a fully accessible alternative to other parks in the core of the city. Supporting over 50 local groups and clubs of all age groups, Earl Bales Community Centre is a hub for leisure, education and growth.

The new gymnasium has been the subject of immense anticipation. With a full basketball court, two half-courts, and three badminton courts, the 50×80-foot space will provide sufficient recreational opportunities for countless residents. In addition to the exercise zones, the expansion will include two universal washrooms, a family change room and a lounge area.

The design of the gymnasium allows natural light to illuminate the room by incorporating enormous windows, featuring views of the park and playground. Visitors to the new site will enjoy an upbeat and comfortable atmosphere.

Councillor James Pasternak has expressed his excitement, saying that this project is a major part of “ongoing attempts to make Earl Bales one of the premier parks in the city.”

In addition to the gymnasium, the building will receive upgrades to the kitchen, barrier-free doors, and a movable partition in the multi-purpose room to accommodate simultaneous events. The flooring will be upgraded, providing a seamless transition from the main hall to the multi-purpose room.

Environmentally friendly features like a sustainable “cool roof” as well as energy efficient lighting will be added to the building as a part of the City’s ongoing green adjustment initiatives.

The 127 acre park has always been known for its picnic pads, trails, and ski centre. This new expansion offers numerous upgrades that will make the park an outdoor hotspot for years to come within and beyond Ward 10.

Free Wi-Fi at Keele & Finch

We are proud to be launching this new program to make Wifi more accessible in the neighbourhood and better serve our business owners.

We are excited about our DUKE Heights Free Wifi project and we encourage you when you see the DUKE Heights Wi-Fi signal near Keele and Finch to sign on and try it out. This is a 6-month pilot project before we start spreading the program out across DUKE Heights. This means that we want your feedback! If you are using this service and you have any comments or suggestions, please contact us at info@dukeheights.ca .

On July 4th, this Summer the DUKE Heights BIA officially kicked off a Free Wi-Fi program at the corner of Keele and Finch. This is the start of a 6-month pilot program that will be introduced across the entire DUKE Heights neighborhood over the next 2 years. Free Wi-Fi is an initiative that has been brought in over many other municipal areas over the years, and yet in Toronto it can still be difficult to find readily available. The DUKE Heights BIA wanted to help bridge that gap, by providing this essential service for business owners, their customers, and the community.

BRANSON COMMUNITY ACTION GROUP MEETS WITH ADMINISTRATION OF NORTH YORK GENERAL HOSPITAL

On June 8th members of the Branson Community Action Group met with Dr. Tim Rutledge, Chief Executive Officer of North York General Hospital.  At this meeting were Dr. Tim Rutledge, Jennifer Bowman, and Tara Bulfer of the North York General Hospital, James Pasternak ward 10 Councillor, Shelley Stillman and Kenneth Schafer of the Branson Community Action Group.

During this meeting Dr. Rutledge revealed the hospital’s plans for the old Branson Hospital.  On June 1st the Urgent Care Centre was closed and replaced, temporarily, with a same day primary care centre that is open Monday to Friday from 10 am to 6 pm. 

The Ambulatory Care Centre is still open but will be transitioned out when suitable therapeutic space can be found and leased.  The hospital reported that it will be spending the summer looking for suitable therapeutic space where it can relocate the services that it houses in the Ambulatory Care Centre also at the Branson Campus. 

Services to be moved to a new site or sites include mental health services, diabetes consultation, complex diabetes care, CCAC, the Ontario Breast Screening Programme and Cataract Surgery.

North York General Hospital will be asking local physicians in the Westminster-Branson community to lead a new group to open up a same day primary care service in the Bathurst and Finch area to replace the one currently in the Branson Hospital Building.  Dr. Rutledge has said that all decisions made by the hospital are governed by the hospital’s “patient first” core value – “Patients come first in everything we do.”  He has further indicated that “a single satellite or hub model is consistent with our [the hospital’s] vision which would contain a robust same day primary care service with physicians, nurses, social workers, and treatment planners all supported by ancillary add-on services provided by North York General Hospital.  These services might include the Ontario Breast Screening Programme, Mental Health Services, Diabetes support services, and specialized geriatric services.  The hospital will conduct a search study for suitable space over the summer.”    

Councillor James Pasternak, Ward 10, raised a few concerns during the meeting.  To his knowledge there is very little space currently available in the Bathurst/Finch area where the hospital could locate a new satellite or hub.  Much of the space that is available is of the 1980’s vintage.  He feels that the hospital will gain little by moving out of Branson into a similar space.  He felt that it might be reasonable to consider re-entering into negotiations with Advent Health, the owner of the Branson Site, and work out a new lease for the medium term. 

Advent Health is planning to build a new medical building on Finch Avenue where the east parking lot is situated in 10 to 15 years.  Mr. Pasternak feels it might be more advantageous to renew the lease at Branson and transition into the new building when it becomes available.  North York General Hospital believes the current building is not adequate for the hospital’s needs and prefers to relocate services.  The hospital is willing to consider relocating back on the Branson Campus when the new medical building is available for occupancy if a suitable lease can be arranged.

The hospital has been looking for a long-term lease which Advent Health could not accommodate. It seems reasonable that possibly re-opening negotiations involving not only Advent Health, and North York General Hospital, but also the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care and an experienced mediator could find a way around the log-jam and result in a lease that is acceptable to both the Hospital and Advent Health.

The Branson Community Action Group is concerned that if North York General Hospital goes ahead with its plan to transition out of the Branson property and if it cannot find suitable space to lease to create new satellite or hub that it will spread all these services out into individual spaces throughout the area and may even transition some of these services to its main campus at Sheppard and Leslie.

Such dispersion of these outpatient services away from the Branson/Finch area will create great hardship for the Bathurst Finch Community and the Bathurst Corridor Community that has high concentration of low income, new Canadian, seniors, and disabled residents who will find it very difficult to access the outpatient services they need if they are moved away from the Branson Campus especially if they end up at the Leslie/Sheppard site.

The Branson Community Action Group strongly urges North York General Hospital to do its due diligence in negotiating a new lease with Advent Health or makes sure it can relocate the outpatient services presently at Branson to a new satellite or hub in the Bathurst and Finch area.

More meeting are to be scheduled between the Branson Community Action Groupe and North York General Hospital in the fall of 2017. If you have input or questions you may contact the Branson Community Action Group by email at bransoncag@gmail.com