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Building a place to play in rural northern Ont.

If it takes a village to raise children, Linda Lefort with the Connaught Community Association would add it also takes one to build a park for them to enjoy.

She’s looking to give the rural neighbourhood -- located about 40 kilometres east of Timmins -- its first outdoor sports facility.

"A lot of new people have moved in our area, lot of young couples that have small children or want to have children," Lefort said.

"These kids are going to grow up with this, which will be wonderful."

The nearest park is a half-hour drive away and the neighbourhood doesn’t have transit service.

Lefort made an agreement with the City of Timmins to take on the task of finding funding to build the facility, which would have year-round use for tennis and other sports, plus act as an event space.

The city agreed to maintain it, once complete.

Estimated to cost more than $200,000, the association gathered more than $50,000 through local fundraising.

Grants from the city’s hotel tax, Hydro One, Glencore and local charities are helping cover at least $100,000 along with in-kind donations of labour and materials from local businesses.

"We’re getting a lot, probably about 60 loads (of sand)," Lefort said in an interview with CTV News, as four trucks pulled up to dump sand at the project site with an excavator spreading it out.

Construction is beginning on a new park in the Connaught area of Timmins. Sept. 7/23 (Sergio Arangio/CTV Northern Ontario)

"That’s a lot of money and that’s donated. No, this couldn’t be possible without it."

She’s hoping the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund will help cover the rest of the work in time to open next fall and the Timmins Economic Development Corporation has been helping her with grant applications.

Lefort’s family has been pitching in too, saying her husband and daughter have been helping along the way.

"I think it’ll help the community, all the kids, to have a place to play," said Michael Lefort.

"Summertime, it’s basketball, pickleball and all that. The wintertime is hockey."

Lefort said local children missed the opportunity to socialize during the COVID-19 pandemic and having a proper recreational facility will give them a chance to reconnect.

The neighbourhood deserves basic recreational facilities, she said, and she’s determined to make sure it gets that.

"They don’t even know each other and with something like this, they will get to know each other," said Lefort.

"I’ll never play tennis or any of that because I can’t […] but you know what, I’ll sit and I’ll watch the people do it. And it will service from little, little children, all the way to 99." Top Stories

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