The West Hill Highland Creek Lions’ Club cares about the way their community looks. As it turns out, they’re not the only ones.
It was the culmination of a group effort involving local businesses and community members that helped unveil the new Lions Club Garden on Oct. 17.
“A lot of the money required for the project was donated by local businesses all over our geographic area,” said Melanie Goldhar, the club’s secretary.
She said that the club had been looking for an area within their district to beautify, when they decided on the traffic island at the intersection of Kingston Road and Old Kingston Road.
Marius Ois, president of the West Hill Highland Creek Lions Club, was the project manager, and Lions Club members laid down the sod, planted the garden itself, and intend to maintain it into the future, according to Goldhar.
They decided on that particular strip because “it didn’t have an upbeat, welcoming kind of feeling as you drove in,” said Goldhar. Among the criteria on the list while they were searching for a project was that it be a piece of property owned by the city that needed renovating.
“Our club looked around our entire district area, and especially Kingston Road, because Kingston Road was the entry point, to find a piece of property that was owned by the city but really looked kind of bad.” said Goldhar. “So that’s how we found that spot.”
She said that the location was particularly important to the club because it felt that people driving through the area on Kingston Road saw only the nondescript traffic island, which left the biggest impression, as opposed to the beauty of Highland Creek village, with the ravine behind the University of Toronto Scarborough campus and the Melville Presbyterian Church.
“We’ve got one of the most beautiful things in Scarborough just a few feet away, but most people don’t see it because they’re driving on Kingston Road, and not Old Kingston Road.”
Goldhar said that the club felt it necessary to do something to improve the look of the intersection in order to make a better impression of their community, both to drivers passing through as well as residents of the area.
The club’s latest project, a garden complete with park benches and a park sign, was two years in the planning. According to Goldhar, part of the reason why it took so long was due to the time they spent waiting for the required permits and approval from the city.
“Our councillor Ron Moeser helped us with the city,” she said. “And the city staff were very supportive and helpful. We just had a lot of cooperation from everybody.”
She said it could not have been achieved without this network of support from the city, from businesses who sponsored the endeavour, and club members who volunteered their time and skills.
“We kind of used the skills that we had within our own club,” she said. “A lot of the plants came from our club members’ gardens. Marius is a landscape architect himself […] he did the design, he found the donors to donate either plant materials from local landscape companies and nurseries and so on, or money to make the garden happen. Then our club did all of the planting and the work and we’ll do the maintenance as well.”
Their hard work did not go unrecognized. Goldhar said that passersby and residents from a nearby seniors’ residence often noticed them working on the garden while the sod was still being laid and bulbs planted.
“You won’t believe the number of comments we’ve had from people about it, how uplifting it is, and how wonderful it is that we’ve made this spot so beautiful.”
She said that club members were surprised at how willing people were to go out of their way to comment on their progress, but were glad that their work was making such a good impression on the immediate residents of the area.
“We were all a little surprised, and of course very pleased that it would be so noticed by people who live right on Kingston Road.”