Rougeville’s field of dreams

After four years of tireless work, Suzanne Soo Man Pow is finally witnessing the realization of a project she holds very dear to her heart: the creation of a new elementary school for her daughter to attend.

On Feb. 8, the Toronto District School Board will meet to approve the finalized designs for a new elementary school for the children of Rougeville, a community near the Meadowvale Avenue and Sheppard Avenue East area in Scarborough.

“We do have a really good design, the architects are fantastic.”

– Suzanne Soo Man Pow

A committee of board members, architects and parents came together in September to begin designing a state-of-the-art school, set to open in September 2013. Soo Man Pow, a resident of Rougeville, contributed to the plans and expressed her pleasure with the finished product.

“We do have a really good design, the architects are fantastic. The design that we want for the school is to be as innovative as possible,” Soo Man Pow said.

Rougeville has approximately 1,200 homes and 500 children who have been bused to “holding schools” such as Highcastle Public School and Chief Dan George Public School, the latter being approximately five kilometres away. Developers promised the residents of Rougeville a new school by 2007. After nothing happened, residents like Soo Man Pow became vocal in their concerns.

“To me it seems that community (Rougeville) has sort of slipped through the cracks. There’s nobody really there who is pushing, advocating, looking at how to build up and bring services in,” Soo Man Pow said.

Shaun Chen, the TDSB trustee for Ward 21 where Rougeville is located, said the board did not have enough money for a new school until last year when the board raised $2 million from its capital building program and received a provincial grant of $13 million. Chen has helped the Meadowvale-Sheppard project become a priority for the board.

“It’s very important. Schools are often times the heart of a community,” Chen said. “I’m looking forward to it, I know the community is looking forward to it and we’re going to get the shovel in the ground very soon.”

Soo Man Pow’s daughter will have an environmentally-sustainable school to look forward to if the plans are approved by the board and the city in the coming months. The designs highlight green features such as a green roof, large open glass windows for natural daylight, the latest technologies and the possibility of an outdoor agricultural garden for students.

“It goes well with the local community because we are in such close proximity to the Rouge-Valley system. There are beautiful trails and greenery in every which direction so we wanted to honour that aspect of the local community in the way we approached the design of this school,” Chen said.