Rotarian and architect Lennis Trotter attended a conference in the early 1990s and heard of a plan to build a Safety Village in York Region.
Lennis was very impressed with this idea and made the commitment to work on getting a Safety Village built in Durham Region. Upon his return, he engaged the Rotary Club of Oshawa-Parkwood to make it happen.
The goal was to provide a location to teach road and rail safety to elementary school students. Through the Durham Chief of Police, Lennis connected with the Optimist Club of Ajax, which had a similar goal.
In 1993, a non-profit corporation was formed to start fundraising. The Durham District School Board donated 1.2 acres of land at Sir William Stephenson Public School in Whitby. Drawings were donated by Lennis Trotter Architect, D.G, Biddle & Associates (engineers) and Henry Kortekaas & Associates (landscape architects).
The plans called for a main building with one classroom, and 21 14’ x 44’ buildings. Each of the buildings was paid for by a corporate sponsor with signage on each of the storefront buildings for a 20-year term. There was also a fire hall, jail, detailed roadways, traffic lights and road signs, and an operational railway crossing.
The amount of funds raised by this small group was an astounding $800,000 and the village was officially opened in September of 1996. At the Kids’ Safety Village of Durham Region, children in Grades 1 to 3 began to learn about road safety as pedestrians and cyclists with instruction by a police officer.
In 2015, the land lease was due for renewal, and Lennis and the Safety Village Board sought to renew their partnership with the Durham District School Board and the Durham Regional Police Services. They began a project of modernization for the village – to add two new full-size classrooms, enlarge the washrooms and improve accessibility. Once again, the small group, with the addition of the Lions Club of Whitby, set about on a fundraising mission and raised $650,000 for the project.
In January 2019, the Village was re-opened for students in Grades 1 through 6, with safety classes being taught by police, fire and Metrolinx (GO Transit).
The Kids’ Safety Village of Durham Region has about 15,000 student visits each year. Safety training saves lives as more than 90 per cent of unintentional injuries are preventable and safety training is the number one defensive strategy.
As one of the drivers of the Kids’ Safety Village Project, Lennis Trotter is a tireless contributor logging many hours. His wife Esther is often seen with Lennis, volunteering at the Village special events which are open to the public (Easter, Hallowe’en, Christmas and Doors Open Whitby).
Lennis and Esther have a long history of community service. Lennis was a charter member of the Rotary Club of Oshawa-Parkwood founded in 1976. He has had 43 years of perfect attendance.
And on July 1, 2019 he began his term as president.
Even after all these years of contribution, Lennis’ connection to the Rotary world is as strong as ever. In June of this year, he and wife Esther attended the Rotary International Convention in Hamburg, Germany. Perhaps a new idea that he heard at that convention will grow into some new project. This is always a possibility because Lennis and his Rotary Club are People of Action.