Bridlewood in need of beautification

A group Bridlewood residents say they need funding and a strong developer to fulfil its dreams of an ideal community.

A working group of residents, councillors and city planners have just completed the two-year Finch-Warden Revitalization study, resulting in a 58-page document outlining the community’s desired improvements.  But there is no guarantee the changes will be made soon.

“It could happen tomorrow depending on developers coming in and starting, or it could happen 20 years from now,” Mike Mestyan, senior community planner for the Scarborough district, said. “All we’re doing is putting the framework out there for future development.”

Funding remains a problem, according to the study.  Mayor David Miller’s Strong Neighbourhood Strategy provided the priority neighbourhood of Steeles-L’Amoreaux  with $1 million, which was earmarked for the construction of a new child-care facility and an outdoor recreational park. Bridlewood did not received any funds through the program.

“There are also many other neighbourhoods in the city that are in the same situation as this one,” Mestyan said. “They require additional sidewalks or lighting or trees. Every neighbourhood is competing against the other to try to get those dollars to fix those things.”

In Bridlewood, sewage backs up during heavy rainfalls to flood basements, Scarborough Grace Hospital is understaffed, power outages are frequent and the community library is too small, the study states.

One revitalization project for the area is to put condos in a parking lot, which will generate funds to build a better library, Ward 39 councillor Mike Del Grande said. “But once the money has sunk from that, which is about $2.4 million, there isn’t any money left to do anything else.”

The application to build a second floor on a section of the Bridlewood Mall and along with eight residential buildings within the parking lot was passed by City Hall.  Del Grande says this development sparked the need for the revitalization study.

“In the corner of the mall parking lot it is our hope they provide a publicly accessible open space for residents, somewhat of a square or gathering spot for the community,” Mestyan said.  “Patios, restaurants or coffee shops would be something we’d like to see there.”

Residents hope the northwest corner will become the heart of Bridlewood, by adding art, widening sidewalks and planting trees.

Although residents are concerned about the cosmetic changes, the Toronto District School Board is facing other issues in the area.

Brookemill Boulevard Junior Public School and Sir Ernest MacMillan Senior Public School are currently running at  20 per cent over capacity. Other schools, including Timothy Eaton High School, have been shut down and the land is now being sold.

“The monies from the sale of the Timothy Eaton site will go to expand and rehabilitate other schools,” Ward 40 councillor Norm Kelly said.  He added that the 15 to 20 million they will receive from the sale won’t necessarily go to the over capacity schools but rather schools across Toronto.