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Valley Park Middle School Goes Green with the Valley Park Go Green Cricket Field

Jul 20, 2011

Article by: Lisa Grogan-Green, Project co-chair

If you've driven down the Don Valley Parkway lately you may have noticed a large banner draped across the south wall of Valley Park Middle School asking passersby to "Help Us Make the Dream Come True." As North America's largest middle school, Valley Park has a goal just as large - to build the ‘Valley Park Go Green Cricket Field.' With a price tag of $1.7 million, it's a major civic project which will revitalize the local community while helping to protect and restore the Don River watershed.

Cricket Field Schematic

The concept plan for the 'Go Green' cricket field includes a rainwater harvesting system, a community garden, and restored riparian habitat (click to enlarge).

The project will see the creation of a new innovative urban park that celebrates and conserves water. The fact that a "sustainable" cricket field stands at its centre creates a "sense of place," fitting the vernacular of the mostly new South Asian immigrants who live in the surrounding neighbourhoods. The project is being driven by a grassroots group of committed and ambitious restorative landscape designers, engineering experts, school staff, students, parents and civic leaders - including advice provided by the award winning planner Michael Hough. Hough's colleague, and TRCA landscape and trail designer, Shompa Hai, is the lead designer, with project managers Victor Ford & Associates.

Hai paid particular attention to the school's context within the watershed. She envisioned a school yard converted to a community gathering place; a place that celebrates the connections between the Don, the community and its ecological elements. Rain water will be harvested from the school roof top, diverting it into a holding tank to irrigate the central cricket field. Other surface waters would flow into a bioswale, wetland and butterfly meadow, aimed at recreating the adjacent Don River's riparian habitat, attracting the vegetation and wildlife that congregates where water meets land. A community food garden would encourage environmental stewardship and connection to the local community. No longer would the Don River be cut off from the school yard by a line of chain link fence. With a school yard dotted with portables, land from the adjacent hydro corridor will be leased and portable buildings moved to create the ‘Go Green,' sustainable, cricket field and community gathering place.

To help make this vision a reality, The Toronto District School Board, Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, Flemingdon Neighbourhood Services, and TRCA have partnered together to provide a wealth of expertise and support, with the TRCA designing and creating the working drawings for the project's ecological elements including the bioswale, wetland and butterfly meadow. MP John Carmichael, Don Valley West; Transportation Minister and MPP Kathleen Wynne, Don Valley West; and Councillor John Parker, Ward 26, Don Valley West; have also thrown their support behind the project. "I'm absolutely delighted with the proposal to expand the school yard and to make use of the Hydro lands that lie behind the school," says Councillor John Parker. "What we need to do is to make the best possible use of the public space that we have... so using hydro fields for recreational purposes is the kind of thing that we've done elsewhere and what we'd like to see happen here."

The City's Live Green Toronto recently awarded the project $250,000.00 in grants to install the roof 

Cricket Field Schematic

Artist's rendition of the 'Go Green' Cricket Field once completed (click to enlarge).

top rain water harvesting system and bioswale. TD Friends of the Environment Foundation has also provided a $50,000.00 grant to plant an urban forest which will ultimately surround the cricket field. With an impressive overall cost of $1.7 million, and slightly more than $400,000 raised, there is still a long way to go.

The school continues to raise funds for the project, and has recently launched Facebook and YouTube sites to reach out to the public. Students from the school's Dream Team, led by media teacher Owen McDermott, will also be visiting local businesses throughout the summer to promote the project and seek funding partners. Individual donors can support this project at Student Success.


Back to On the Don Summer 2011 Edition >>

central cricket field:Cricket is an immensely popular sport with the local community. For a team of 18 students, more than 100 parents and supporters will cheer on the team at both home and away games. The Valley Park Cricket Field project has generated an inspiring spirit among this community of mostly Newcomers to Canada. A 24-hour "Crazy for Cricket" sleepover event was held on April 1-2 in honour of the ICC World Cup Final Match. More than 600 people showed up to watch India and Sri Lanka duke it out on big screens and to celebrate the City's first ever sustainable cricket field project. The event brought out the media in droves and led to a project endorsement by the award-winning movie star Lisa Ray, from the Deepa Mehta film dubbed "Water." TSN host Michael Landsberg was master of ceremonies for the evening and swung a cricket bat with the local Thorncliffe Boys' Club to show support.