After over a year of Central Technical School wondering what would come of its old, cracked track, the City of Toronto, local community and a private company have come to an agreement. At times plans for the new, $6-million, privately-built and -operated track and sporting facility seemed dead in the water, but an agreement was revealed last Friday that lays out plans for the new six-lane track and turf sports field.
“We had four day mediation and we heard concerns from the community and concerns from the city,” explains Razor Management president Matt Raizenne. “We tried to address them as much as possible and we ended up with what’s going to be built. It’s essentially a replica of what’s at U of T except, instead of an eight-lane track, it will be a six-lane track.”
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The school board will have control of the facility during school hours. The rest of the time Razor Management will manage it. The facility will be available to the community 98 per cent of the time while school is not in. During school hours, Raizenne expects it to be operated similarly to how it has informally been used already; so long as neighbourhood residents aren’t causing any problems and the facility isn’t in use, they will be able to use the track and turf.
Originally, Raizenne had hoped to have a entire facility domed during the winter months, similar to his company’s highly-successful facility at Monarch Park Collegiate in Toronto’s east end, but the agreement will only allow the area inside the track to be domed during the winter. Neighbourhood residents were worried about the size of the dome.
The fully-winterized facility at Monarch Park has been wildly successful, actually leading to one of the main concerns of the Harbord Village Residents’ Association, a community group which opposed the project. They were worried about increases in traffic to the already-busy neighbourhood.
“I think we’ve been a victim of our own success,” says Raizenne. “[Monarch Park] is incredibly successful but there were some traffic and parking issues. Unfortunately, instead of people thinking ‘Hey we need more of these projects, it’s a good thing, if there’s that many people using the facility. There’s that many people being active you would think we should be more of these things,’ but politicians and trustees don’t see it that way.
The track at Central Tech has been closed since November of 2013 when it was realized, because of Razor Management’s preliminary tests, that the soil contained contaminants.
“I think it’s just this mentality of it’s the community who owns the land, but in reality the school board does and even though people pay taxes it’s no different than the school board renting out their gymnasium or auditorium to a usergroup, their just renting the facility to us longer term for a cash infusion to the site,” says Raizenne.
The new facility is expected to be open in September or October of 2015.