After intensive, two-stage letter writing campaign in 2011, former Parkview School site, at 85 Fortieth St. in Long Branch, remains in public hands

After intensive, two-stage letter writing campaign in 2011, former Parkview School site, at 85 Fortieth St. in Long Branch, remains in public hands

In the 21 years that we have lived in Long Branch, one memorable event stands out, among the many exciting things that have happened in those years.

In October 2010, we learned, from a visit to the Toronto District School Board website, that the property where the former Parkview School was located, at 85 Forty First St., was up for sale. If it did not get sold to another school board or public institution, it would be sold to a developer, and the school grounds, where local children love to play, would be gone.

View of new main entrance stairs, one of many new, recently constructed landscape features at École élémentaire Micheline-Saint-Cyr, 85 Forty First St. in Long Branch. Jaan Pill photo.

As residents, we faced a crisis. Our family met with other residents, to plan a winning strategy. We faced a key question: Should we organize a petition, to save the school, or should we launch a letter-writing campaign, instead?

Fortunately, I received a discrete message from a long-time resident, with many years of experience in government service. The message was that, in this case, a letter-writing campaign, addressed to provincial-level decisions makers, would be vastly more effective than a petition.

It takes more time to write a letter, than to sign a petition. Letters would, in this case, carry more weight. Decision makers realize that it takes a certain level of commitment, for a person to write a letter.

We devised a brief, beautifully written letter, noting that Colonel Samuel Smith had built a log cabin, in 1797, where the school grounds now stand.

After the first round of letters, we received another discrete message, from a new source. Negotiations had stalled. Could we write more letters? At once, we wrote more letters.

Just before the 2011 provincial election, I received a phone call from the office of our local MPP. A media event was scheduled, at the school site. Could I round up a crowd of friendly residents (that is, hecklers can stay home)? That was readily arranged.

At the media event, Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Laurel Broten announced that the province would provide $5.2-million in funding to enable the francophone school board, Conseil scolaire Viamonde, to purchase the school. The school, renamed École élémentaire Micheline-Saint-Cyr and newly renovated and landscaped, now operates as a French-language school.

I’m aware of at least two young neighbourhood children, who will be attending the school starting in September 2018. What a delight that is, to know how well this story has turned out, for those of us who live in this beautiful, historic corner of Long Branch.

A retired teacher, Jaan Pill is writing a book about local history in Long Branch. His website is at www.preservedstories.com

The preceding text has been published as a letter to the  editor at the Etobicoke Guardian website

An Aug. 28, 2018 Etobicoke Guardian letter to the editor is entitled: “French school result of Long Branch residents’ rally to save history.”

As I have noted at previous posts, the Ward 3 Councillor Candidate Pamela Gough played a key role in ensuring the successful outcome of the community-driven Parkview School project.

 

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