East York Mirror
Boosters of a new cricket field for East York will know soon if they are one step closer to securing over $100,000 in funding for the community-supported initiative.
The Valley Park Go Green Cricket Field Project is hoping it has enough votes to reach the finals of the Aviva Community Fund online contest for its entry Let There Be Lights, which seeks to have outdoor lighting installed for the planned cricket field, to be located on the grounds of Valley Park Middle School, located at 130 Overlea Blvd., as well as on former lands belonging to Toronto Hydro lying adjacent to the school.
To get to the final round of the competition the Valley Park group, which has already reached semi-finals, needs to place in the Top 10 for entries with a budget of $100,000 or higher.
If the idea makes the finals, it will receive $5,000 and the chance to win a grand prize of up to $150,000. Voting to reach the finals was set to run until Dec. 12 at a special website set up for the contest.
With around 90 minutes to go, the Valley Park entry was outside of the Top 10 with over 10,000 votes in support of the outdoor lighting proposal.
Project co-chair Lisa Grogan-Green said she and her team of volunteers worked hard to get the word out about the contest, which began in November, using social media and email as well as door-to-door canvassing of Thorncliffe residences to encourage voting.
They also set up voting booths in the neighbourhood and handed out free chocolate bars to voters.
The group has also formed voting partnerships with nearby schools Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute and Don Mills CI which also has an idea in the contest, the funding of its best buddies school club for students with developmental and physical disabilities.
“We exhausted every option,” said Grogan-Green on Dec. 12.
Through various initiatives, the group has already managed to raise since 2011 more than one million dollars for the first phase of the $1.7-million project, which will also house two soccer pitches, a basketball court and a red clay running track - and hopes to break ground before winter arrives.
Also planned for the space, which was designed by architect Shompa Hai, are an amphitheatre, herb and vegetable garden, butterfly meadow and wetlands to be created in part through the collection of rainwater from the cricket field.
Grogan-Green said adding outdoor lighting to the space would allow for programing of activities past 5 p.m., as well as facilitate winter events to benefit an estimated 9,000 kids ages five and older, many of whom play cricket into the night in school parking lots relying only car headlights for illumination.
“The adults will create a circle for the kids with their car lights facing forward,” she said. “Cricket is a near religion to a lot of people.”
Even if the project doesn’t receive funding through the Aviva contest she said more fundraisers are planned, including an event planned by the Ismaili community for February. She didn’t rule out taking part in next year’s contest.
“We would like to get the money in one fell swoop, but if we don’t we’ll definitely approach other donors,” she said. The Valley Park Go Green Cricket Field is scheduled to open in July of 2013.
For more information on the Aviva Community Fund contest visit www.avivacommunityfund.org