UXBRIDGE: Council has changed course on a recent decision involving a high profile holiday charity toy drive that had wished to set up collection boxes at township facilities.
During a Recreation, Tourism and Culture Committee meeting on the morning of Monday, Nov. 4, Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast detailed a recent conversation between her and Salvation Army representatives and the distribution process of the ‘Toy Mountain’ Toronto-area holiday toy drive.
In a contentious vote on Oct. 21, council opted to permit Toy Mountain collection boxes at both Uxpool and Uxbridge Arena, to coincide with collections to take place through a partnership between the York-Durham Heritage Railway and CTV Toronto.
At the time the issue was initially raised, Councillor Northeast - who also serves as chair of the Salvation Army’s Uxbridge branch - was vocally against the measure, and argued that the move may ultimately divert toys from the local Community Toy Drive, which has been spearheaded for close to 20 years by Canadian Tire operator Pat Higgins.
At Monday’s meeting of council, Councillor Northeast explained that all toys collected by the Salvation Army as part of ‘Toy Mountain’ are transported to a distribution centre in the Victoria Park/Lawrence Ave. area of Toronto where toys are sorted. The Salvation Army also distributes toys to its branches from a church in Pickering.
However, Councillor Northeast added that she has been a longtime recipient of toys from the Community Toy Drive to fulfill the needs of clients of the Salvation Army, rather than drive to Toronto or Pickering and ensure that toys donated by the Uxbridge community stay local. As well, Councillor Northeast added that she was told by a Salvation Army representative to stay within the local Toy Drive.
"Will the toys collected in Uxbridge (for Toy Mountain) be used by the local Salvation Army? Yes, but only if I go down to Toronto to pick them up," said Councillor Northeast. "They do not come to me through delivery in any way, shape or form."
A motion to reconsider the original decision was moved by Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger was ultimately passed, and the Arena and Uxpool will only be home to collection boxes for the Community Toy Drive. The YDHR will be able to continue with their partnership with CTV Toronto and will be collecting toys for 'Toy Mountain' through early December at the historic Uxbridge Train Station.
"My understanding was that the toys would go to the Salvation Army here in town, and any extra would go to the Community Toy Drive," Councillor Ballinger explained.
"If the toys aren't staying here, I’m not in favour."