From time to time, we’re asked to share details regarding the text that we used in the letter writing campaign connected with the successful effort to keep Parkview School in public hands.
The letter went through several versions, in the course of an intensive two-stage letter writing project. The networking leading up to the letter project was a key part of the process. In some cases people meeting each other while walking their dogs, and engaging in conversations, led to subsequent meetings in which key information and resources were made available to the community.
We chose a letter-writing project instead of a petition, in this case. We received excellent advice in that regard. The advice was that a letter written by many people would have more impact than a petition signed by many people. It takes more time and effort to write a letter.
When people write such letters, they communicate to elected officials and others that they care enough about a subject to take the time and effort to write a letter.
In the Parkview School project, large numbers of residents showed they cared enough to write a letter early on — around February 2011 — and also to write a letter later on — around May or June of 2011. In the spring of 2011 we had received advice that a second round of letters would be useful.
At first we thought, “But that’s a lot of work, for people to write letters one more time.”
Then we realized, “It takes effort to write a second round of letters. The fact people are willing to do that will be a useful way to show they strongly support efforts to ensure the school remains in public hands.”
The original text was developed as a result of extensive input from many people.
We ensured that the contents of the letter were accurate and based on strong archival evidence.
Below is a standard version of the text:
The Honourable Laurel Broten
701 Evans Avenue, Suite 100
Etobicoke, ON M9C 1A3
February 28, 2011
Dear Laurel Broten:
I am aware, through my contacts with local residents, that the local community in Long Branch strongly supports the purchase, by the French Language Public School Board, of the Parkview School property at 85 Forty First Street, which the Toronto District School Board declared surplus to its needs in June 2010.
This support was evident in the well-attended public meeting held in January 2011 regarding the offer by the Conseil scolaire Viamonde to purchase the property, on whose grounds are located a significant archaeological resource, the Colonel Samuel Smith Homestead.
The open space where the archaeological remains are located is used by area children for games of soccer, touch football, tobogganing, and for rolling down the north-side hill. The open area provides green space for children from neighbouring buildings at 25 Villa Road and townhouses along Lake Shore Blvd. West, which have limited open space in their complexes. Many of the children in these buildings are first generation immigrants. The open space allows them to make friends and connect to the community.
Colonel Smith, who lived from 1760 to 1826, was a Loyalist officer with the Queen’s Rangers during the Wars of the American Revolution. Smith was granted a large tract of land in Etobicoke in 1793. His house was in continuous use for about 152 years from 1797 until about 1949 before it was bulldozed in 1955. A preliminary archaeological survey of the site, which has been registered with archaeological databases maintained by the Government of Ontario and City of Toronto, was conducted in 1984.
Samuel Smith, whose portrait hangs in the Legislative Building, served for two terms as Administrator of the Executive Council of Upper Canada, a position equivalent to Lieutenant Governor. In December 2010, area residents celebrated his 250th Birthday.
Any help that you could provide in expediting the release of funds to enable completion of the purchase of the property, and thereby preserve public ownership of this historic site, would be very much appreciated by the area residents.
We have a wealth of supporting documentation regarding the site, which we would be happy to provide upon request.
c. Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of Education; Dalton McGuinty, Premier