A Community Initiative Comes to Life at the New Driftwood Parkette Playground

On August 13th over 200 volunteers came together at Driftwood Parkette (359 Driftwood Ave.) for the one-day build of a new playground.

The playground is a result of a partnership between Councillor Anthony Perruzza’s office, the City of Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation department, local residents, and organizations.

Celia Smith, a local resident and community activist was deeply involved with the project from the beginning. Celia explained that through her work with Action for Neighbourhood Change she consistently heard community members asking for better play spaces for children.

In 2015 Celia decided to reach out to Councillor Perruzza’s office, and soon after, a partnership to obtain funding began with Parks, Forestry and Recreation. Part of the initial process involved Celia and the tenant group at 415 Driftwood collecting signatures of support.

An application for funding was successful and the city joined forces with Foresters Financial, and KaBOOM! to construct the new playground. KaBOOM! is a non-profit based in the U.S. dedicated to improving the lives of children by creating great places for them to play. Foresters Financial and KaBOOM! partnered to generously provide funding for the new playground. In the last decade their partnership has resulted in the construction of over 130 playgrounds across Canada and the U.S.

The consultation process began with children from Shoreham Public school participating in a design day event. “The students were so excited about having an input on the design that they didn’t want to put the markers down. It gave them a great sense of pride to create the drawings” said Hanan Mohamed, who works with Councillor Perruzza.

Following the design day, local residents participated in a consultation to decide on the playground equipment based on the children’s drawings. It is great to see that many of the children’s ideas have come to life in the playground through the form of rock climbing walls, slides, spring toys, picnic tables (with game tops to play chess or checkers), and accessible swings.

Councillor Perruzza explained that “this project demonstrates what can be accomplished when the City partners with businesses to make Toronto’s green spaces more livable,” and is looking forward to how the “neighbourhood will benefit greatly from this new playground for years to come.”

Celia recalls the one-day build with great enthusiasm, “it was amazing! I’ve worked on so many projects, but have never seen anything like this one. There were over 200 people helping and it was so well organized.” In regards to what this meant to the children and youth in the neighbourhood, Celia mentions that, “this really helped them learn valuable skills and it is good to see them enjoying the playground. The kids would roll down the hill before, so it shows how necessary this playground was. It also helps parents because they can take their kids to a safe place to play and they know exactly where their kids are.”

The Driftwood Parkette playground is an inspiring example of what communities can achieve when they work together.

On the Go? Grab Some Fresh Fruits and Vegetables during your Commute

If you regularly commute through Downsview Station you may have recently noticed a food market with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Grab Some Good TTC pop-up food market is an initiative by Toronto Public Health, the TTC, and FoodShare Toronto to make healthy and affordable food more accessible throughout the city.

The produce sold at the pop-up market comes directly from the Ontario Food Terminal (which is the main food distribution centre for Toronto,) and from local farms who supply seasonal produce. This guarantees low-cost high-quality fresh produce that is never sitting on a shelf.

The pop-up market has a variety of affordable and fresh produce including: oranges, cantaloupe, watermelons strawberries, blackberries, carrots, kiwis, peaches, pineapples, lettuce, kale, spinach, cilantro, bell peppers, eggplant, garlic, mushrooms, avocados, cauliflower, cilantro, garlic, ginger, and other produce. For commuters that needed a meal on the go there were fresh salads and fruit cups available.

Barbara Emanuel, Manager of Healthy Living at Toronto Public Health explained that, “prices are as low as possible to enable access to fresh produce,” which encourages commuters to make healthier food choices without breaking their food budget.

In addition to providing healthy food alternatives at affordable prices, FoodShare employs community members like Rickysha Jean-Baptiste, a lifetime resident of the Downsview neighbourhood, who works at the pop-up market. Rickysha began working with FoodShare Toronto after completing a placement through the University of Guelph-Humber, where she studies. Her passion for the Grab Some Good market is visible through the friendly customer service she provides to commuters. According to Rickysha, her and her colleagues usually serve over 100 customers in their 4 hours of operation, and consistently receive positive feedback from commuters who would love to see an earlier start time for the pop-up market.

The Grab Some Good pop-up market is a pilot project that started in May 2016, and will hopefully become a permanent fixture at Downsview Station. You can purchase affordable, fresh, diverse, and healthy produce at Downsview Station on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M.