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Sibelius Park officially opens

June 14th, 2012 · 2 Comments

ANNEX COMMUNITY CELEBRATES WITH RIBBON CUTTING, BBQ

Councillor Adam Vaughan introduces some of the members of the Sibelius Square Working Group as they cut the ribbon and officially welcome the reopening of the park on June 10. Richard Frankel/Gleaner News

By Richard Frankel

The Sibelius Square Working Group, along with hundreds of people from the community and councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina), came out on the sun-filled Sunday afternoon of June 10 to officially open the redesigned Jean Sibelius Square Park.

The redesign took six years of consultation with the community, city parks officials, and working with the city councillor’s office.

“The residents in this neighbourhood taught the rest of the ward how a community can lead the design and build process,” said Vaughan. “It’s always been a park with a lot of challenging memories for me—in the construction, in the management, and the process of getting it built was its own challenge.”

Vaughan has his own memories of the park, too. When he was a child living in the neighbourhood, he would sometimes hide in the park after running away from his nearby school.

The result of the hard work is a new playground, field house, playing field, pathways, and central plaza.

“None of this would have been possible without some very strong leadership from the councillor’s office around moving the vision for Sibelius forward,” said Patrick Kennedy, the chair for the working group, who thanked the Annex community for coming to community meetings and filling out many surveys.

Vaughan said there are 16 parks under construction in Ward 20 including Seaton Park, Bellevue Square, Clarence Square, and Taddle Creek Park.

“We’ve been looking at parks and rebuilding parks and using communities to lead that process right across the ward,” he said. “But this one started first but finished a little late but that’s because it’s rewritten the rulebook at City Hall on how to let a community not only lead the design process, but help manage the construction process to make sure the park arrives here and that it’s the park the neighbourhood wants. I’m enormously proud of the residents here. They have really, really rolled up their sleeves.”

Sibelius Square was in trouble six years ago.  The park lacked green space and had reportedly become a regular locale for drug dealers. It posed many challenges to the community, as the parks department had never allowed residents to sit in on the evaluation process.

“It’s normally a bureaucratic process that even councillors don’t sit in on,” he said. “This neighbourhood asked to be part of that process to make sure that they got the best out of every decision. That was a real challenge and a credit to the parks department. They found a way to work with the residents and I think they began to understand the need to have people at the table so that was part of it.”

There were issues with transportation services around the construction of the edges of the park and where the new wall was going to be placed.

“Because the residents were here watching every bucket of concrete get poured, as soon as they made a mistake, we fixed that problem before it became unsolvable so as a community building process and as a city building process, this neighbourhood has really stepped up.”

A statue of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius stands in the centre of the park as part of a memorial presented to the City by the Finnish people of Canada on Sept. 20, 1959.

Tags: Annex · General · News

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Peter Steen // Jul 29, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    The Annex Gleaner owes a retraction of Frankel’s statement that “six years ago…The park had fallen into disrepair – it was devoid of grass and had become a regular haven for local drug dealers.”

    This is a lie. Having lived across the park for almost 14 years I can assure you that there was grass, green space and was not, in any way, a local “haven” for dealers. There was already a”playground, field house, playing field, pathways, and central plaza.”

    Frankel’s comment is not based on reality. Further than that, it does the greatest of disservices to all neighbours who made our park a true community hub – through cleaning, rink building and beautification.

    The people whose political agenda was to revamp the park painted it as some sort of desolate blemish on the neighbourhood, in order to better promote and push their vision.

    Frankel’s comment sounds like it came from the pre-revamp propaganda rather than from someone writing a journalistic piece.

    If the Gleaner is simply a mouthpiece for those more established, who claim to speak for all, then admit to being so and be honest about it.

    If you are a real newspaper, that is supposed to be a true journalistic report of the community it purports to cover, then print a retraction of Frankel’s insulting paragraph.

    He did not write the truth, and you printed the lie.

    It is incumbent upon the Gleaner to recognize its mistake and apologize for those you have maligned, ignored and insulted.

    Peter Steen
    Brunswick Avenue

  • 2 Admin // Aug 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Mr. Steen,

    Apologies for the lateness of this response. The online version of Mr. Frankel’s story was posted without the edits that were made for the print edition by mistake.

    The print edition reads “The park lacked green space and had reportedly become a regular locale for drug dealers.” We have since updated the online version to read the same.

    The report of this condition of the park came from this article in the West Annex News:
    http://westannexnews.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/jean-sibelius-square-park-official-opening-sunday-june-10-2012-at-330pm/

    The Gleaner is devoted to editorial consistency and integrity, and regrets the error.