Expansion planned at Leaside Memorial

Leasiders got a sneak peak at plans for expansion of Leaside Memorial Community Gardens at a public meeting on Nov. 30.
In a presentation detailing the expansion plans, architect Richard Dabrus of Wong Gregersen Dabrus Architects outlined an illustration of what the Leaside community can expect. Some features include a new ramp, lobby, ice rink, six team rooms and seating for 200 people. Dabrus and his team also plan to add walkways connecting people from the street straight to the facility, as well as more than 100 parking spaces, and more trees.
Don Valley West Councillor John Parker and others involved with the expansion were in attendance to update residents on the project.
Plans to expand the arena developed when it became evident that there isn’t enough space to accommodate the number of people trying using the present facility. The Leaside Hockey Association rarely has any home games and has been forced to rent ice rinks elsewhere to accommodate its schedule.
Leaside Gardens has a history of being supported by the community. Built more than 60 years ago, the facility has had previous renovations including new seating and a new roof. Those changes were paid for in part by community fundraising, and the committee overseeing the latest expansion says it will look to community members for a helping hand again.
“Good old-fashioned local community fundraising is going to be an important part of the construction costs of this facility,” Parker said.
The cost of the expansion is an estimated $9.5 million. The city has agreed to loan Leaside Memorial Community Gardens $7 million. The Leaside Arena Expansion Committee hopes to raise the remaining balance by early next year. The target period for site construction is between fall 2011 and fall 2012.
Project manager Peter Klambauer says the building will be partially accessible during renovations, and measures will be taken to ensure the safety of users during construction.
“The facilities will be in operation while there is construction elsewhere on the site. There will be impacts and it’s our job to mitigate those as best as possible and to minimize them,” Klambauer said.
Leaside Gardens is used by the Leaside Hockey Association, the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association, the Leaside Skating Club and other organizations. The Leaside expansion model proposal also raised issues concerning parking, funding and the inclusion of other groups, such as the Leaside Curling Club.