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Man offers $200K to help rebuild Toronto Island Park maze

A philanthropist with fond childhood memories of the cedar hedge maze at Toronto Island Park was astonished to learn the city removed it last year, and is now offering $200,000 for the city to build a new one.

William Meany, 43, told CityNews that he first came upon the maze when he was seven years old, and that experience left him with “Alice and [sic] Wonderland type dreams for years.”

“I remember pure joy, mystery, intrigue and problem solving all wrapped up in one,” he said in an email.

Meany  would visit and run through the maze in his teen years and as an adult take friends from all over the world to experience it. But last summer when he again took friends there, Meany was astonished to find that the maze had disappeared.

“It was just an empty patch of grass. Momentarily, I thought it had only existed in my dreams after all.”

Meany, who once ran Repo Man and Repo Depo, is now a philanthropist who donates his time and money to various causes and organizations across Toronto.

The 43-year-old Mississauga native contacted the city and offered to donate $200,000 in order to build the maze elsewhere at the park and have it renamed The William Meany Maze in his honour.

The proposal will go before the Parks and Environment Committee on Monday for approval before being considered by council on July 16.

The former hedge maze was in a dire state beyond repair before being removed in 2012, according to a city staff report.

The cost to rebuild the maze in its original form is estimated to be between $150,000 and $200,000, with annual maintenance costs estimated at $15,000, according to the staff report.

If Meany’s proposal is given the green light he will fund the entire cost of construction, while the annual $15,000 maintenance fee is already included in the Parks, Forestry and Recreation’s 2013 budget.

Meany believes that the maze is too valuable of an asset to Toronto Island Park and the city to let it go.

He hopes that his efforts will help other children to create memories of their own.

“One of the great things we can give to children is an opportunity to explore their imagination. Hopefully the maze will inspire the imaginations of Toronto kids for another half century. Toronto has a long list of unique treasures and this is one of them. It gave me lasting memories and I’m not going to let it disappear forever.”

Should the city rebuild the maze? Share your thoughts in the comments below.