The Squirrel’s Nest Daycare has to figure out what to do with $373,000.
The centre is to receive the money found by Ward 38 councillor Glen De Baeremaeker in a dormant city bank account in September.
Scarborough City Council decided to allocate the funds to the Squirrel’s Nest because the money had originally been set aside for renovations to that facility, according to a council motion dating back over 20 years.
The centre has lots of ideas on how to spend the money but some red tape to go through before they can touch it, says daycare director Caroline Charlemagne-LueFong.
“Even if I have all these plans in my head, it still has to work with the city and the centre.”
Charlemagne-LueFong, who has worked there since 1995, said there are areas in which the centre could benefit from the money, such as making the basement more accessible, but they are starting a long process.
“The problem is we don’t have all the info,” she said. “It’s still in the infancy stage.”
De Baeremaeker was more specific about what the windfall money could be used for.
“It’ll basically build them a new playground outside of the daycare or adjacent to the daycare so that kids can go out and enjoy the fresh air more often.”
He said that part of the $373,000 would also go toward renovating the basement, including, but not restricted to, making it wheelchair-accessible.
When the money was first discovered, reports said other Scarborough councillors wanted the money to be shared with their wards as well. But De Baeremaeker, who voted along with Ward 37 councillor Michael Thompson for the money to go to the daycare at the last meeting, said that they were determined to stick to the original plan.
“We visited other areas as well that could certainly use the funds as well,” said De Baeremaeker. “But we said, ‘Well, the original intent 21 years ago was to spend it at Squirrel’s Nest, and even though they’re all good causes, we’ll keep it at Squirrel’s Nest. That’s the best place for it.’”
De Baeremaeker defended the decision further, saying that in context, the amount of money was not as exorbitant as it sounded because playground renovations alone could cost up to $300,000.
Charlemagne-LueFong also downplayed the interest the find has generated.
“It’s funny, when something like this happens, everyone wants to know [all about it.]”
She said that as of now, they have little information about what is going to happen with the money.
“I just know that it’s coming.”
The decision is to go before Toronto City Council for final approval.