Richmond Hill Awarded for Innovation
Unique Facility Takes Something Old and Turns it into Something New
RICHMOND HILL – Richmond Hill's commitment to heritage preservation and youth services was recently recognized by Parks and Recreation Ontario (PRO) with an Innovation Award.
Richmond Hill received this award for its unique Eyer Homestead Park and Eyer Wideman Youth Centre project, which includes a renovated heritage house and outdoor recreation amenities for youth. The site is a combination of urban and rural, historic and new, active and passive recreation, with a special emphasis on youth programming.
“We are thrilled to be receiving this award," said Mayor Dave Barrow. "This facility enabled us to take something from our history and revive it into something new for our present and future. It connects the village we once were to the leading edge and innovative community we are today.”
A review of current services and future needs through a public consultation process lead the Town to consider developing a unique concept for the adaptive reuse of this historic site. The Eyer Wideman House is considered one of Richmond Hill's earliest surviving examples of a Pennsylvania-German Mennonite dwelling and was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1994. It was constructed in 1828 and, while ensuring the building's heritage was preserved, Richmond Hill updated the structure to meet current building standards for physical accessibility, wiring and telecommunications, heating and air conditioning, improved insulation, and security systems. Today, it is known as the Eyer Wideman Youth Centre and it provides youth between the ages of 13 and 18 with a facility to enjoy recreation and leadership activities, such as computer courses, babysitting courses, arts and dance, self defense and kickboxing, money management and resume writing, to name a few.
The Eyer Homestead Park features quiet, formal landscape areas that surround the restored house and areas for activities like Frisbee, badminton and catch. It also includes a ropes challenge course – an amenity offered by only a few municipalities. One of the exciting outdoor features of the property is the high and low ropes challenge course that has been used by sports teams, youth church groups and corporate groups to encourage team building, as well as personal development.
Each year, through its Awards Program, Parks and Recreation Ontario recognizes and honours the achievements of both its members and those in the parks and recreation community. These highly coveted awards express PRO’s admiration of and gratitude to individuals and organizations that have contributed to the advancement of leisure, parks and recreation in Ontario.
Richmond Hill also received an Excellence in Design award from Parks and Recreation Ontario in 2011 for Newberry Park Wetland and in 2009 for Crosby Park.