High Park Family Fun Place – what is it?


Blog reader Dave has asked  for a post about the  High Park Family Fun Place and what people think about it ?

I can place this post up but it’s up to everyone to say what they think of the idea.

1st your author has to declare that the blog is out of it at times,such as when this sign went up the whole womans gym idea which I had heard about went out the window.  Why? because if I think clearly this new concern is the effort of two Junction people who I know and for which I have looked at the business plan.

What I do know is that Jennifer and Pierre (and you would find it hard to find two more committed people) working considerably to round out this idea.  All along I viewed the idea as  a ‘community place’  where kids can play with parents, local people can meet and a lot of activities can happen.

16-03-2010 8-19-59 PM

It is a very unique concept, it can read about at their web site http://www.hpfamilyfunplace.ca.

I for one think the idea is great.

from their site

Full Scale Gym designed as a “family/community” styled gym for allages. The gym features treadmills, bikes, weights, 6 plus fitness classes daily for adults, kids, teens and seniors. Personal trainers are available by request.

Art Section is for children of all ages with a focus on drawing, sculpting, painting and photography. For younger children aged 1 – 6 years, we offer Creative Expression where kids can enjoy stamping, tracing, gluing and painting. For older children (tweens & teens) we have organized Crafting classes featuring crafts, photography, drawing and other creative arts.

Party Room for birthdays or parties of any kind. Come and celebrate your special event with us. There are three different party packages to choose from all designed to make your party a great success. We even offer organic food catering

The Lectures & Workshop Room features weekly seminars covering a variety of interesting topics including wealth, health, parenting, culture and community. The Lectures & Workshop Room is also available on a rental basis for local businesses and group gatherings (i.e. book clubs, knitting, scrapbooking etc.). Contact us for full details.


It looks like a great idea, I hope the nice weather this weekend doesn’t cause problems for the grand opening. Hope is does well. Risky opening an indoor fitness place in April when the the weather is getting nicer and people can play outside for free. Best of luck.

My first thoughts are… why call it High Park Family Fun when its in the junction?

I walked by and saw a lot of childrens paintings on the walls. Reminded me of Gingerbread cafe and I felt excluded and disapointed that this likely won't turn out to be a legitimate gym that myself and my friends could use. I'm longing for a YMCA like the one on College st at Dovercourt which is also a community center and family oriented but has a good business model of appealing to everyone. The prices that High Park is charging seems a little high for what it is. A lot more value for the buck at the YMCA.

On the other hand I'm happy to see the space filled and although I won't be a patron I appreciate that its a start-up for the huge young family population that we currently have.

I think it is a really good idea and hope it works out but (isn't there always a but)

it is a bit pricey, $80 for the kids playground monthly pass and also $12 to drop in. There is a playground in St Clair/Bathurst that is charging $60 a month and $8 drop in. I am sure they have researched things but I am reluctant to part with that money for something indoors at this time of year. IMO they should have started off a bit cheaper for the summer months and increased prices when winter starts. For those prices I hope the playground has all the latest toys with slides etc etc

The other thing that I am not sure of is the space? Is it just the bottom level? BEcause if it is, how are they going to fit everything in?

I would think the High Park is simply a marketing issue, deep down some people wish the Junction was High Park.

We could call our selves the High Park Triangle.

Sonny I didn't want to bring up the prices but since you mentioned it I felt they are way too high as well. $200 for a family membership is unrealistic for many. Besides kids and early teen should be encouraged to play outside or on team sports.

Another idealistic and unrealistic business model for this neighbourhood. I give it 1 year, more then my usual 6 months. In this case, people will try it and realize its not a bang for their buck. The honeymoon period of this business will last through the summer and into the fall… but next winter, the real financial troubles will arise.

Just my 2 cents.

Then deep down those people should make a concious decision to MOVE to High Park. As you've said to me before Junctioneer, this is the Junction, and we need love it for what it is and stop trying to change it, right?

Yes I agree, I would like to see them stand up and use the Junction name too. But alas all my life when people want be "safe" they revert to calling the Junction apart of High Park.

I would think the winter period may be a boon for this type of business. Iis another place to go especially for the family with kids, it will be nice to have a place to drop in for few minutes or half an hour for the child to have to fun and energy release.

I do love thats it is idealistic though. businesses such as this can make in th right community

Junctioneer I just thought of something: Using your suggestions above: ("it will be nice to have a place to drop in for few minutes or half an hour for the child to have to fun and energy release." ), how many people are willing to pay 200$ per month to use a service for a few minutes/half an hour, even every day?

Also, what do you suppose the rent is on this rather large space in a prime location? Do you personally believe that there is enough of a target market in the surrounding neighbourhood, that is willing to pay 200$ per month, to occassionally use this service/location?

Just to clarify are Grand Opening is not this weekend but Saturday April 3rd (Easter weekend). We are not only a gym, we offer multiple services. Some of our classes will be held outdoors in the park and we will have a running group too.

We are going to serve a wide community all bordering the famous park- including Roncey residents and BWV- so it made sense to us at the time.

The murals being decorated are for the playground area indeed. The other entire side of our facility has a proper gym that everyone can enjoy- no kiddy stuff! ( I promise!) We will be serving a large number of families in the area as well as singles.

FYI our basic membership is $55 a month – cheaper than the Y- (no first time sign-up fees like the YMCA either) There is a typo for the family membership fees which will be changed soon.

Regarding the fees: Again, this is an error we overlooked and changes will be made tomorrow. Our apologies.

True, children should spend time outside this time of the year. But the majority of the fitness classes will be ideal for the busy parent who cannot find time to take care of themselves. Finding an hour for yourself is indeed a luxury for most – including myself 🙂

As a former teacher in the area and a parent of two young children, I can say first hand that the integrated services we'll offer are in high demand. We have also researched the area and taken years to prepare… we aim to definitely proove your forecast wrong. Come visit us on the opening day and perhaps you'll see why we have a clear vision for the future and a real commitment to help the community grow together.

We are planning to be here for many long years.

As most parents will tell you, we desperately need an indoor playground in our area. More so in the winter or colder times of course(7 months a year..!) But even in the summer there is extreme heat or rainy days and we do need additional camps for kids. (which is coming in July) Also the idea of the playground is to also serve as an educational and recreational spot for kids while a parent is getting fit, attending a lecture or having a massage.

Any parent in our area will confim that this is so needed…

Kids won't be watching TV, but participating in Bilingual circle time or enjoying time in the Art Section. For kids under 5, this is a nursery school like experience.

Many parents travel to the "burbs and pay $17 or more for 2 kids to run around and enjoy themselves with no extras. In comparison we will be asking $12 for 2 kids. We have made ALL our service affordable for all incomes. This has been well thought out. Ask any parent and they will typically stay 1-3 hours – not minutes.

Again, the price for the family membership will be amended tomorrow on our site. There has been an error. Yes, the rent is high-since you are curious . But we are not relying only on membership fees. If you look at our site you'll see multiple services. So we feel confident about the future with the number of families and singles in the area.

My wife's take on this is: "I don't want to be working out and see little kids running around saying 'LOOK MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY, MOM, MOM, MUM, MOMMY' (Family guy joke)"

Also the indoor playground is negated by the brand new one built outside in the park on Vine avenue.

If I have a family and want to bring my kids out I think I'd chose High Park where my family could play with hundreds of other kids on a gigantic castle playground, ride bikes on miles of path, fish, swim, picnic and go to the zoo all for FREEEEEEE

In all honesty to anyone reading this… please open a gym like the West End YMCA. We need that here. We have the demographic… We have the buldings…

At 10,000 sq’ft (only half of which is the play area) I’m sure the gym is in a separate section and kids won’t be running around jumping on treadmills.

Also without the family services the monthly membership is $55 including classes which is a reasonable rate. The $200 is for a family of 4, $50 each.

Also the $120 parent rate includes baby sitting for two kids as you workout. If you workout 1 hour a day, 5 days a week that’s a sitter for less than $2 an hour.

On the naming front I assume they used High Park because they want to attract business from outside the Junction.

I will definitely check out this new business. I am about to be a new mom any day now and look forward to frequenting all the community oriented places. I will see if I like it and if its within my budget.

Wow there are some real grumps on that post on this blog.

I must say I sneaked a peak in the window today and the play equipment is top-notch. Everything is brand new and the high quality play equipment, the slide is HUGE! It is a massive space, I can't wait to welcome them to our community.

Jennifer I am relieved to read that there was a typo in the prices. I think people people need to understand this is not a rec centre with bargin basement prices, but a well thought out business offering a great service in our community so we need to expect to pay more.

Jennifer and Pierre, I wish you the best in your business endeavour!

Yes, I as the owner I can confirm that the gym is separate from the playground. That's the whole idea- a parent can work out , attend a lecture or get a massage while their child is being cared for. I would love to have a YMCA in our area -you're right. As noone is doing so, this is best we can offer at this time.

We have worked over 3 years to make this happen for a community we love and know well. All we ask is:

For all those reading- give us a chance to meet your expectations. You won't be let down!

But these places are limited. We are attempting to offer multiple services versuses running around to many classes for your children. Let me elaborate what 2 for $12 will get you: weekdays

-all day play any day
-Bilingual circle time with an ECE (Early Chidhood Educator) 2x daily
-Access to Art section led by an art teacher

So for many Mums this means they won't have to spend money and time going to an art class, gymboree and then a music class another day. We are all-in-one.

I know it will take time for everyone to see they are actually going to save money. Some parents I know go to various places for dance classes for themselves and then to another place for yoga and then to another place to attend a lecture…

This can be exhausting and you have to pay for a sitter too. This can all amount to $130-200 or more a month – with no childcare either. Look around and check out the prices, if you haven't already.

We are offering an ideal place that we dreamed of years ago when we first started out as parents. I hope you will see the difference once we open. We understand that we are starting something new that is not found in this area yet. That's ok.

If you look at other Scandanavian countries in Europe they not only invest in childcare- but in Family Centres. They are some of the happiest people on earth..how about learning from them? We aim to help and nurture and grow together.

I look forward to seeing the new prices. I truly hope you succeed, but I must say you counter post seem a bit defensive, we were asked our opinions and we gave them. You may have done your research but these are real people giving real thoughts on the good and the bad.

As a busy parent myself I will always choose and outdoor activity like a bike ride to High Park where we can explore and learn, or kicking a soccer ball around or playing catch and encouraging other kids in the park to participate. Fresh air and exercise make bedtime easier.

I know plenty of busy parents in the area I have never heard any of them say I wish there was a fitness center I could go to and have my kids entertained while I work out. Most say the opposite in fact, they would rather take there gym time alone and have their spouse look after the kids so they can enjoy the time without looking at the time.

Also there used to be a kids indoor play place across from Dominos pizza called the Magic Playhouse I think, It lasted a couple of years before it when out of business. It was too pricey as well.

There is nothing grumpy about it. They asked for some honest opinions and thats just what we gave. Businesses in the area can benefit greatly from the opinions we share on this website. If you reflect back on some of the posts about businesses you'll find that we're correct on projections about 80/90 percent of the time.

All you have to do is check out the Gingerbread Cafe post. When it first opened everyone was raving about how they were going to patron that place and how cool it was to have a family coffee shop that mothers and children could hang out at. Sadly at the end of the day it went out of business because of all the points that we mentioned on this blog.

Sometimes the truth hurts. You can take honest opinions and critique as helpful pointers a la Simon Cowel or you can sugar coat everything and say how wonderful it is a la Ellen Degenerous.

I want this place to succeed. I dont like empty store fronts in the area and I don't wish bad on any small business. I'm just giving you the opinion of guys in their late 20's/early 30's which, if you live in the area then you know there is a lot of us..

Put it simply if the choice is between going somewhere outdoors or going somewhere indoors then outdoors will win the majority of the time.

I have seen many indoors places suffer in the summer, the numbers are well down. You just won't have the same take-up in the summer, and that is a fact and if there is another winter like this one numbers will be down again as people will pick the park over being inside.

And it is not something that we are in desperate need, there is the OEYC, library, earthstone ceramics, that is doing them a dis-service for the service they offer.

Another example, in the summer I can buy a season pass for Ontario Place for well under $50 which will last around 5 months, that for me is a bargain and my son will get more out of it than being stuck indoors.

If you looked around, you would see a lot of women in their 20s/30s with children that live in the area too. And without children.

Sorry – I get that its your opinion, but there are a couple of grumpy bullies on this site – and putting bets down on how long a business will last helps no one. Maybe…..I don't know…don't want to give any shocking advice here….but how about opinions on how to make a business work in the area? since the grumps on this site are the most informed people of the informed residents of the Junction

Rerun, do you even read my comments? I speak for myself, but my advice is always come up with a viable business plan and you'll succeed. If you come up with pie-in-the-sky ideas then I can't help but think your business will fail. Sorry, I'm naturally realistic.

In the beginning Jennifer and Pierre Kasonga had a DREAM.

The Dream was to have a community meeting place that included fitness, recreation and entertainment for families. They saw a lack of such services for parents.
Some services include a full scale community Gym and fitness classes, yoga, massage, and spa treatment. Child care is provided while parents are indulging in treatments or taking a class. A Large scale indoor playground for kids 2 to 9 yrs old and tween and teen play area with a hockey and foozball tables and a game section.
If you would like any additional details about High Park Family Fell Free to contact me

Who are you to judge what is "pie in the sky" or "viable"? I've read your comments, you come across as a curmudgeon. That's okay, too. That is just my opinion. I'm naturally realistic, and I'm not sorry.

I have a good business sense, and I can tell you when a business is going to fail. Pretty straightforward no? Refer back to the post I made regarding the Gingerbread Cafe for clarification. If you'd like, we can revisit this conversation next March. I take my apologies over easy, with a side of toast.

I like the idea. I live north of the Junction (Humber Heights) but I've been looking for this type of service for a while and I frequent a lot of junction businesses. Like most businesses, they will probably have peak times, and low season – as long as they build in strategies to manage cash flow, they should be okay. I think a lot of the negative comments are probably a result of incomplete information (the weblink provided isn't working), which probably shows the downside of talking up your business before all of your communication is ready to go. To the owners – don't forget about us working moms and dad's who would be interested in services in the evenings and weekends. That's the real gap – there is a lot happening at OEYC, libraries etc. during the day, but once you have a toddler and are looking for a drop-in activity in the early evening, the offerings really dry up (more a need for the winter months than summer perhaps?). Now, what I really need next is a top-notch breakfast place – can we start a petition to get BOOM! to open in the Junction?

Lola – regarding breakfast, I'm not sure what you're looking for that isn't already there. I'd suggest you check out Fatima's Bistro, at Dundas & Clendenan. Or, if you're looking for more of a greasy spoon, the Purple Onion, on Dundas near Pacific.

Lola, give Little Fish a try for a great breakfast!, it is located at Dundas and Quebec. The owner used to have a place in Leslieville called Eat, the atmosphere and friendly staff make it my latest fav brunch spot. They also have 2 high chairs and 1 booster seat for the family set.

I'd like to see Boom take over the Southesat corner of Keele and Dundas. I'd also like to see a "Fresh" open up in the Junctiion as well…

we all have our dreams.

I would love to see some great businesses at Keele and Dundas replace the Galazy, Money Mart and Concourse. Not sure if that will happen any time soon!

I have to try Little Fish this weekend, I keep hearing such great things about it!

Rumor has it that a gourmet cheese shopping is opening up in the hood. The space has yet to be secured but it is definately coming.

Other updates:

Back to the Garden Restaraunt has closed
The old Stereo shop at Dundas/Pacific that was gutted for an Art store and then put up for lease again has been LEASED.
Bronto Burger has been rebranded as Jocelyn Burger and has renovated to add more seating room.
A random clothing store called Vu Ja De Design is opening where the office supply place was just east of Concourse on Dundas West.
The hip hop clothing store, the Nigerian Restaraunt and both upstairs appartments have all closed and moved from the building on Keele.

Thanks for the updates Sonny

The Nigerian Restaurant building is an interesting one with all the tenants being removed, wondering what could be the plans for this building it's in such an awkward position.

Denise, I tried Little Fish this weekend and it was great! Packed and great

I would love to have a cheese shop in The Junction. Somewhere a bit more laid back the one on Ronces.

If the weather forecast remains the same, I can't see this opening weekend being a success. The weather will play a big part in the success of this place because this weekend I will be doing outside things instead of being stuck inside.

Went past in the morning today and it wasn't that busy, was expecting more people there on a day with the weather like it was. For a 4 yo all there is, is the climbing structure, everything seems to be geared to younger ones toy-wise and there isn't as much space as I hoped. You can get all of that at the park.

For the prices and the hype, I would expect something like this:

I guess the number of sign-ups at the weekend didn't go to plan as already the drop-in prices have gone from $12 to $10 a session.

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