Downtown Toronto is currently experiencing a boom, and this time, we’re not just talking about condos. According to City of Toronto data, downtown neighbourhoods have experienced significant population growth among children aged 0 to four-years-old with central areas like the Waterfront-Island Communities leading the surge.
The area, which includes the Toronto Islands, Entertainment District, St. Lawrence Market, the Distillery District and City Place, saw an increase of 60.25 per cent of kids aged 0 to four-years-old between 2008 and 2011. This was second only to the Danforth which saw an 81.43 per cent population increase in the age group.
As the number of families living in condos and urban areas has increased, so to has the demand for child-friendly, fun and educational spaces, particularly for kids aged six-years-old and under. This was the catalyst behind the development of the Children’s Discovery Centre, Toronto’s first and only children’s museum.
The Children’s Discovery Centre became a passion project for CEO and founder, Jeanhy Shim, after a trip to the Bay Area Discovery Museum in San Francisco with her two-year-old nieces.
“Eleven years ago I was at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, a children’s museum based on play, and thought why doesn’t Toronto have a children’s museum?” said Shim. “Since then, I vowed to bring the concept to Toronto.”
Now a mother to a six-year-old girl, Shim experienced firsthand the need for a place where younger children could play, be engaged and entertained.
“With Maya, I used to have all the memberships to places like the Science Centre and the ROM, but I realized that there was nothing really developmentally geared to kids under six,” explained Shim.
Shim, who is also a condo marketing strategist and president of Housing Lab Toronto, partnered with a team of early childhood development experts, curators, architects, designers and developers to make that dream a reality.
Major founding partners include Diamondcorp, BUILD Toronto, SKYGRID, Giannone Petricone Associates, Giovanni A. Tassone Architects Inc., Friendship in Action and Rouge Consulting.
Shim also approached the Garrison Point community in Liberty Village who came aboard as one of the project’s key supporters. Developers Cityzen Development Group, Diamondcorp and Fernbrook Homes donated the temporary use of the former Municipal Licensing Office that sits on the site.
After 18 months of planning, preparations and renovations, the Children’s Discovery Centre opened its doors to the public as a pilot project on May 23rd.
BuzzBuzzHome News recently took a tour of the 20,000 square foot space complete with stroller storage, an exhibition area and a series of discovery zones to play in and explore.
The 10 discovery zones were curated and designed by early childhood educators and are aimed at developing different skills, from reading in Maya’s Storyland, to creating works of art inside the Art Hive.
There’s also a small supermarket where kids can learn about and shop for healthy foods, a make believe vet clinic complete with X-ray slides and viewers and a mini city where kids can ride bikes and scooters or play inside a construction zone complete with a gravel pit.
The Centre will also be part of a study conducted by Housing Lab Toronto and consumer research firm Heads Up that will focus on urban families in Toronto, how they live and where they want to live. Shim hopes to use the data to help her get government, private and corporate funding partners to secure a permanent space.
The Children’s Discovery Centre will be open at its present location at 45 Strachan Avenue until September 30th. Check out more of our photos below.
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