Trace Manes’ playground will soon get a makeover, one that’s badly needed, and honours the memory of Georgia Walsh who was killed in July 2014 in a traffic accident at Millwood and McRae.
It is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2018.
The rejuvenation project comes with a budget of $1.2 million, which includes the building of a fence around the entire perimeter of the playground, a rubberized surface allowing for wheelchair accessibility, new playground equipment for varied age groups and special needs, shading to protect kids and adults from the sun, improved seating and a splash pad that’s accessible to all.
Shovels are expected in the ground by the fall of 2017.
Georgia Walsh loved playing at the Trace Manes playground. She is the inspiration behind the project says her mom, Jillian Walsh. It’s also a fitting way, says Walsh, for her family to show their appreciation to the community for all the support they’ve received in the wake of Georgia’s accident.
The Remembering Georgia Walsh organization, which is dedicated to celebrating Georgia’s life, has raised $200,000 to date from proceeds of the first annual Georgia Walsh Memorial All-Star Games held last August as well as word of mouth donations. The committee expects to raise the remaining funds by the end of 2016.
While its fundraising initiatives to date have been low-key, Walsh and the rest of the committee are ramping up their grassroots fundraising strategy as we head into the second half of 2016. It has created a leadership committee whose task is to raise approximately $500,000. Members of the committee include former Don Valley West MP John Carmichael.
Fundraising initiatives already planned include the 2016 Georgia Walsh Memorial All-Star Games on Saturday, August 27, at Trace Manes Park, as well as the Jump for Georgia fundraisers scheduled to take place at 12 area schools during May and June, teaching kids at those schools about pedestrian and road safety.
Future events still in the planning stages include Night Out on the Town, an evening of big band entertainment sponsored by Amsterdam Brewery and Grill Time Gourmet Meat Shop as well as the Circle of Life to buy a brick that becomes part of a circle around a tree.
However, a major portion of the funds will be raised in a grassroots style through the efforts of the seven members of the leadership committee. In addition, through its partnership with the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation, they are working on getting a raffle licence and will likely run a Luxury Prize Draw offering three high end prizes.
Every cent raised goes directly to the project with all donations of $10 or more receiving a charitable tax receipt from the foundation.
While Walsh and the committee fully expect to meet their goal by the end of the year it won’t be able to count on the city for financial support. There’s no money for these kinds of projects.
“I’ve learned a lot about the huge costs it requires to maintain the city’s deteriorating parks equipment,” says Walsh. “Most rejuvenation projects get private money. The city has an 85-year playground equipment cycle; Trace Manes isn’t even on the 10-year waiting list.”
To learn more and to make a donation go to the Remembering Georgia Walsh website, www.RememberingGeorgiaWalsh.com.