Why a Master Plan for the School Yard?

Gledhill Public School

School Yard Master Plan

The Gledhill Public School yard works adequately for most activities; however, the issues are well understood – concern for shade/healthy environment, safety, community involvement, proper sports/activity amenities, and the desire for beautification. These school yard challenges require research and consultation. Through this master planning process, there lies an opportunity to incorporate environmental education and sustainable practices at the school.

Recent school yard projects – play structures, the memorial garden, and vegetation planting – have provided enthusiastic momentum for continued planning and school yard improvement, but have been implemented with a lack of an overall organized vision. A mentoring relationship, with North Design Office, a Toronto design firm, and the Landscape Architecture Program in the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design (al&d) at the University of Toronto, has provided an excellent opportunity to prepare an innovative school yard master plan for Gledhill Public School. The master planning process will be vital to engage all school and community stakeholders, provide a high quality plan, and enable the school to secure additional funding and support to move our 'visions into reality'.

Lorenzo Mele, Gledhill Public School and Community Association Member
Alissa North, North Design Office / al&d

Background Chronology

1981 – Drawings produced by the Board of Education for ‘Site Renovations’ for southern end of school yard, which included the existing sod play field, trees and shrubs, a play structure and playhouses, and a brick paved entrance to the school at the south-east corner.

1984 – Drawings produced by the Board of Education for ‘Site Renovations’ for north end of school yard as a result of the addition of the community centre, which included moving the teacher’s parking lot, formalizing the walk to the subway with decorative paving and a tree allée, additional tree plantings, a new baseball diamond, and ball hockey and basketball courts.

2002 September 11 – Peace Garden established to commemorate victims of 9/11 tragedy.

2004 – Toronto District School Board (TDSB) commits to the renovation of the playground area and equipment.

2004 Fall – Parents initiate discussions to mitigate declining enrolment and loss of Grade 6 to D.A. Morrison. The outcome is to create an environmental focus at the school.

2005 April – School Improvement Team and Gledhill School and Community Association (SACA) form committee to initiate school yard greening project.

2005 June – Phase One of new 'Junior' playground equipment installed.

2005 Fall – Phase Two and Three plans reviewed and submitted.

2005/2006 Winter – Proposal development, community mapping, and visioning!

2006 Spring – Phase Two of 'Intermediate' playground equipment installed and TDSB supports funding and construction of Phase Three, ‘Spirit Garden’, outdoor learning area.

2006 November – Tree and shrub plantings supported by Evergreen grant.

2006 Winter – Master Plan and mentoring proposal submitted to Faculty of Landscape Architecture, and Design (al&d), University of Toronto.

2006 Winter – Alissa North and Pete North, Partners of North Design Office, and Assistant Professors in the Landscape Architecture Program at the al&d, chosen to help guide and prepare the Master Plan, with assistance from Landscape Architecture Students at the al&d.

2007 Spring – Master Plan 'project kick-off' meeting at the school, with SACA members and Master Plan Project Team.

2007 Summer – Master Plan Project Team undertakes site research and analysis.

2007 Fall – School Yard Master Plan Community Planning Night, to share initial findings with school community and to hear their thoughts, ideas, and comments concerning the school yard.