Mayoral Candidate to Open Schools for Neighbourhood Use.
Toronto – Every neighbourhood in Toronto has a school that could be re-envisioned as a community hub to provide recreation and learning opportunities for everyone. That’s why today Gil Penalosa is announcing that as Mayor, he would work with the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic School Board to open up schools for local use on evenings, weekends, and during the summer by signing Community Use Agreements.
“For a minimal investment, we can open up our local schools to provide a place for youth to play and older adults to learn and socialize,” said Penalosa. “With land values and construction costs continually increasing, we can no longer allow valuable public infrastructure to go under-utilized or unused.”
The City and the local school boards already have Community Use Agreements for use of outdoor field spaces during non-school hours, but very few arrangements have been made for the use of indoor facilities like school gyms and classrooms. Penalosa’s plan would see local schools re-imagined as vibrant community hubs that would include:
- Indoor sports, such as basketball and soccer, for teens and young adults.
- Continuing education classes such as cooking, arts and crafts, life skills, and music for all ages and backgrounds.
- Scouts Canada and Girl Guide programs such as Beavers and Brownies for children.
- Early childhood development programming for babies and very young children, aged zero to four years old, and their caretakers.
- Programming for older adults to decrease social isolation.
- Language and settlement classes for new Canadians.
Emergency infrastructure as needed, including Emergency Cooling Centres during summer months.
"Along with libraries, parks, community centres, and our city streets and sidewalks, schools are an asset to the whole community," said Penalosa. "I will re-envision Toronto's civic spaces as multi-use hubs that are interwoven with the public realm: spaces for everyone, with a variety of programs and services to suit all interests and needs."