By RON FANFAIR
Refurbishment of the East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club in Galloway is set to begin a year after the three levels of government and other funding partners committed to transforming the facility into a key community hub for young people in Scarborough.
Federal Member of Parliament Lois Brown joined Ontario Health Promotion Minister Margarett Best, Mayor David Miller and Youth Challenge Fund (YCF) executive director Pamela Grant at last week’s groundbreaking ceremony.
The federal, provincial and municipal governments have each contributed nearly $1.3 million in funding while the YCF has chipped in with $1 million to the project that costs almost $4.7 million.
“We are here to celebrate a milestone,” said Best who is the MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood. “This club plays a vital role in the lives of our young people who are indeed the future of our community and Ontario. This is a priority neighbourhood and there are many young people who require additional resources to meet their basic needs.
“This is much more than a club. It’s a home away from home. This project is a good example of the power of collaboration among various partners.”
The community club currently services nearly 16,000 young people annually, ranging in age from one to 24. The building expansion will allow the club to reach up to an additional 200 children daily.
“One of the greatest things for me as an MP is to attend events like this where we are seeing investments made in our local communities,” said Brown who represents Newmarket-Aurora. “We know that investments in facilities like this are going to offer an opportunity for young people to gain skills, build relationships and be contributing members of our community.”
The club has never been renovated since it was built in the early 1970s. The joint funding for the 700-square metre expansion is to be used for energy retrofit, the installation of administrative offices and a new gymnasium and other refurbishments.
“This facility is so important to this neighbourhood and this community,” Miller said. “The city’s contribution is $1.3 million, but I don’t really think that’s what is important. What’s important is everybody is out here because this is our club. It’s a place where we can learn, where we can get fit, where we can express ourselves and where we can be together as a community.
“I am extremely impressed with this neighbourhood and the people who work in this wonderful facility. You have earned the new building by your work.”
The YCF makes direct, grassroots investments in youth-driven initiatives that focus on creative approaches to engaging youth and providing opportunities for education, employment and leadership.
“Our mandate is to provide relevant opportunities for youth who face inequities across the city’s 13 priority neighbourhoods,” said Grant. “With YCF funding, we are ensuring that not only will the Kingston-Galloway community have access to a safe and innovative new space, but the young people and their peers who will use it most have played a lead role in designing, developing and governing the space from the beginning.”
The club’s executive director, Ron Rock, expects the expansion work to be completed by June 2011.
“The bid process will be completed today and awarded to the winning contractor tomorrow and they will take control of the site and start work immediately,” he added.
The club will rent space in East Scarborough to run its programs while renovations are being done.