Ward 26 councillor Jon Burnside is on a crusade to rename Leaside Park so that it “better reflects the community” in which it is located.
Leaside Park is not located near the affluent neighbourhoods of Leaside proper, but near Overlea Boulevard and Millwood Road in Thorncliffe Park, a city-designated neighbourhood improvement area. Burnside wants to build a community centre there and believes distancing it from implied association with affluent neighbourhoods will help attract the corporate and private donations needed to fund it.
“The area has been severely underserved, and my big concern is giving youth — especially youth, but seniors as well — the same opportunities to get involved that are enjoyed elsewhere in the city,” Burnside said.
The first-term councillor floated the idea of changing the name of Leaside Park as a first step in attracting investment for a community centre during a town hall meeting on March 23. He found some support for choosing a name that would better reflect the community.
Once a new name is chosen, he said, he will start the process of making it official by submitting a written request to the director of Parks, Forestry and Recreation.
For now, Burnside is encouraging local residents to contact his office with suggestions. He will be visiting area schools, such as Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute and Gateway Public School, to solicit ideas from students. He also intends to promote the initiative in his June newsletter.
Burnside said he wants to have generated enough interest that he’ll be ready to present his case for a new community centre in Thorncliffe Park next year, when the city begins developing a master plan regarding new facilities.
“By generating interest in creating a new name for the park, people will be well-versed and able to give their input when the city comes around,” he said.