West Hill children and youth need more playgrounds and sports centres

Playgrounds. Skateboarding parks. Basketball courts. That’s what locals wish they had more of in their area.

At affordable housing consultations, residents complain about the lack of recreational centres. They say if young people had more places where they can play sports or take part in extracurricular activities, crime rates would decrease. Residents also worry for the safety of their children who often have to play behind buildings where gang members meet. If there were more sports centres, children would certainly be in a safer environment.

Furthermore, West Hill residents’ organizations say community centres are not close enough to buildings in West Hill. People are forced to walk long distances, or take the transit to access their community centres. As a result, these long commutes tend to discourage families from enrolling their children in activities. An increase in the number of community centres, or at least better locations for them, would ensure children have an equal chance to develop social and athletic skills.

Another facility that would be greatly welcomed by the community is skateboarding parks. Children are seen skateboarding in parking lots, which is too dangerous. A skateboarding park would be most welcome by young people. A few local agencies, such as Action for Neighbourhood Change and West Hill Services already plan to advocate skateboard parks. They started talking to youth in the community so they can petition for such a park.

And what about the $373,000 Councillor Glenn De Baeremaker found dormant in a bank account? That money was saved for park beautification and restoring playgrounds, but now councillors have other uses for it. Residents and De Baeremaker, however, want that money to be spent on what it was originally intended for: the children in Scarborough.

With about 24,000 children living in Wards 38, 43 and 44, having more parks and recreational spaces seems like a perfect idea.  According to Toronto’s ward profiles, most families in these areas live in apartments where children have no space to play — which is why giving them parks and sport facilities makes a lot of sense. These places will encourage youngsters to be active and have fun, while keeping them both physically and mentally healthy.