New basketball court builds community in Neptune

New basketball court builds community in Neptune

September 15, 2015

A young resident of Netune makes a jump-shot during the community basketball tournament
Above: Residents face off during a basketball tournament to celebrate the official opening of the new basketball court in Neptune.

“Chris Bosh!”

“Michael Jordan!”

“No, definitely Stephen Curry!”

Neptune residents Jessy, Gloria and Jennifer shouted out some of their favourite basketball players during a community basketball tournament to celebrate the official opening of the new Neptune Basketball Court.

Residents of all ages were joined by Toronto Community Housing staff and Toronto Police Service officers from 33 Division to enjoy a free barbecue, activities and a basketball tournament. The event also included giveaways of more than 50 children’s books donated by Frontier College

“Playing basketball has always been an important part of this community. So it was natural that we organized a basketball and barbecue event to get people out,” explained Millicent, a resident and event organizer.

Improving community safety

“Community barbecues are a great way to engage residents about safety,” explained Mike Bezoff, Community Safety Adviser at Toronto Community Housing. “Events like these get people out to learn about the safety resources in their community and build trust with community safety officers—so when something goes wrong, residents feel comfortable coming to us.”

Toronto Community Housing’s Community Safety Unit helped organize about 25 barbecues, three movie nights, two basketball tournaments and one beach day across the city this summer.

“These events bring people together. By providing an opportunity for neighbours to get to know each other, they build a stronger community and improve safety. They also provide an opportunity for people to learn where to direct their concerns—breaking down walls and building bridges between residents and staff,” said Kisa, a resident who helped organize the event. 

Working with partners to create opportunities for residents

About 38 per cent of people who live in Toronto Community Housing are 24 years old and younger, and in the Neptune community 65 per cent are youth. Because of this, Toronto Community Housing works with partners to create opportunities and events that help youth thrive in their communities.
 
Community stakeholders at the Neptune basketball tournament
Above: Toronto Community Housing staff, Neptune residents, a Toronto Police officer from 33 Division and City Councillor Josh Colle pose for a photo during the basketball tournament. 

In 2013, the local Councillor Josh Colle saw that the basketball court was in disrepair and identified a new basketball court as a community priority for Neptune. By working together with residents and Toronto Community Housing staff, Councillor Colle secured a donation for $10,000 from Shoeless Joe’s, a local business on Dufferin Street, to repair and expand the basketball court.

“As part of the project Toronto Community Housing made additional improvements to the community space, including improvements to the run-off water flow around the community and repairs to the underground parking garage, located beneath the court,” said Associate Construction Manager Juliet Mugabi.

Completed in November 2014, the basketball court is now three metres longer, providing more space for youth to play. 

When asked what the best part of having a new court is, residents Caleb, 14, and Johnathan, 12, said, “The best part is we all get to play and have fun.”
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Neptune residents chase the ball on their new basketball court
Above: Neptune residents chase the ball on their new basketball court during the third quarter of the basketball tournament.

“We have a real court now, the nets are better, the court bounces—having this basketball court here makes me a better basketball player—that’s the best part!” said Kajoube, a young resident from Neptune.

“The Lawrence Heights and Neptune areas are not well served by indoor basketball courts, so youth use this court all year, even in the winter. Local police have said the court also discourages anti-social behaviour, which makes the court a benefit to the whole community,” said Rayon Reid-Brown, Manager of Revitalization and Renewal Communities for Lawrence Heights.

A number of Toronto Community Housing communities across the city hosted community barbecues just before students headed back to school to engage residents about community safety initiatives and upcoming revitalization activities.

Demolition for the Lawrence ​Heights Revitalization ​will begin this fall, and construction will start in spring 2016. Although 135 to 155 Neptune Drive will not undergo a physical transformation as part of the Lawrence Heights Revitalization, residents are included in many of the social events and will benefit from all the economic opportunities provided through this revitalization project.

To see more photos from this event, visit our Facebook photo gallery.