For mothers like Nanette Malungkit and Niky Stavarakis, the newly opened Warden Hilltop Community Centre means a variety of facilities in a more convenient location.
Pushing her son’s stroller across the field at the grand opening on Sept. 17, Malungkit said she wouldn’t just be using the new gym, but was going to bring her son to the centre.
“I’m definitely signing up [my son] Nathan for creative playtime,” she said. “And when he’s tired, all I’ll do is take a few steps and I’m home.”
Before the centre opened, Malungkit and Stavarakis, who live nearby, would commute with their children to the Birchmount Community Centre.
The new centre, located near Warden Avenue and St. Clair, will serve the Warden Woods neighbourhood of Ward 35.
“I [really like] the facilities and location,” Stavarakis said. “It’s a beautifully done centre, and everything’s clean and new so that’s great.”
The centre’s official opening featured music, face painting, a jumping castle and presentations by the camp pioneers – children who participated in a summer camp at the centre before it opened.
Ward councillor Michelle Berardinetti, who has advocated for the building of the centre throughout her time in office, said that the centre will be what brings the community together.
“It’s really had a lot of disconnect in this community,” she said. “Because it’s more of a suburban neighbourhood, it lacks that common core…It will be a hub for people to come together.”
Berardinetti added that the centre will expand and roll out new programs soon, to match the growth in the area.
Earlier this year, the centre faced objections from some residents who were concerned about the minimal parking the centre had to offer. Berardinetti, however, arranged for additional parking at a TTC lot nearby.
The environmentally-friendly centre, which has been planned since 2001, comes with a double gym, weight room, teaching kitchen and preschool area, and features a green roof, solar power and a geothermal heating and cooling system.