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Shade, pools, and gardens, all with a link to the Liberty’s past

July 16th, 2014 · No Comments

Local parks offer place to cool down, run a dog, wade in water

For the first part of this year’s Grading our Greenspace, our annual park review, writers visited 10 parks?(more to come next month) to grade them on a variety of factors, including amenities, cleanliness, and ambiance. Do you agree with our assessment? Send your thoughts to gleanerpub@gmail.com.

By Chantilly Post, Sameera Raja, and Brian Burchell

 

This wired woman, a creative scarecrow of sorts, protects tomato plants in this truly inventive urban garden in the Alex Wilson Park.

This wired woman, a creative scarecrow of sorts, protects tomato plants in this truly inventive urban garden in the Alex Wilson Park. Brian Burchell/Gleaner News

 

Alexandra Park

East side of Bathurst Street, between Dundas and Carr streets

Visited: Saturday, 3:00 p.m.

Grade: A (Last year: A)

Attractions: Loads of recreational options, two baseball diamonds, basketball court, large inviting outdoor swimming pool, splash pad, and skateboard park. Plenty of shade.

Notable: Just south of Scadding Court Community Centre, which has its own indoor pool, a public library, community garden, and daycare.

Overheard: “Mom, mom, look the pool is open can we go can we go?”

Alex Wilson Community Garden signals that residents are not clients of the city but citizens, and they take ownership and they care. This park exhibits the pride and ownership.

Alex Wilson Community Garden signals that residents are not clients of the city but citizens, and they take ownership and they care. This park exhibits the pride and ownership.Brian Burchell/Gleaner News

 

Alex Wilson Community Garden

Richmond Street West between Portland and Maud streets

Visited: Saturday, 3:45 p.m.

Grade: B (Last year: B)

Attractions: Unique community garden, where local residents plant and care for their own flowers and vegetables. An inventive, sustainable irrigation system diverts water from the roof of the building to the east. Nestled in between two multi-storey buildings whose ivy-covered walls face the park, the garden features a meandering wooden walkway that connects a graffiti-covered alleyway with Richmond Street West.

Concerns: No garbage or recycling receptacles. High bushes enclose the north end, potentially a hiding spot for criminals preying on those that use the park as a thoroughfare.

Notable: The garden is named in memory of Alex Wilson, a landscape designer and community activist who died in 1993. During his life he was an advocate for using indigenous plants and organic methods. This garden reflects those values.

Overheard: “I used to have a plot here, I grew peppers, but the f—-ing crack heads ate them at night…enough of that. I’m going to smoke a joint, so please don’t take my picture.”

 

The Grange

South of Dundas Street West between McCaul and Beverly streets

Visited: Saturday, 2:45 pm

Grade: A (Last year: A)

Attractions: Splash pad, decent playground for children, park benches aplenty occupied by couples, families, and six possibly homeless people each sound asleep. An impressive forest of chestnut trees provides ample shade, but a few open spots exist and accommodate sunbathers. An outdoor ice rink in the winter. It even has its own website: http://grangeparktoronto.ca.

Concerns: Washrooms present, but have been locked for decades, which is regrettable (Be brave! Open the bathrooms and you get to A+!).

Notable: Bequeathed by the Boulton family to the AGO in 1910, and then to the City of Toronto by the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1911. The original residence sits at the southern flank to the AGO, and has recently been redeveloped.

Overheard: Father to five-year-old daughter who had stopped in her tracks, “What’s wrong Margaret?” Margaret replies with hands on hips, “Two things Dad, I want a lollypop and I don’t want to leave this park.”

 

Randy Padmore Park

Between Denison and Augusta avenues, just north of Queen Street West

Visited: Saturday, 4:00 pm

Grade: C (Last year: A)

Attractions: Functional playground set, two benches, picnic table. Waste receptacles at east entrance.

Concerns: A break from the concrete jungle, but needs updating. No waste receptacles at west entrance, and the ground is littered there as a result. Not enough shade and zero landscaping within the park itself. Nightlight in centre of park is broken.

Notable: Formerly the Carr Street Parkette, it was officially renamed to honour Arthur Randolph Padmore. Padmore, who died in 2009, was a dedicated youth worker and community organizer in the local Atkinson Housing Co-Op.

Overheard: From Mom and young daughter passing through on this hot and sunny Saturday: “Mom can I stop and play on the slide?” to which her Mom replied, “No honey, there is too much sun.”

 

Trinity Bellwoods Park

Between Dundas Street West and Queen Street West at Strachan Avenue

Visited: Saturday, 12:30 pm

Grade: A (Last year: A)

Attractions: A local favourite that features lots of space to lounge and for community festivals. Fully equipped with three baseball diamonds, off-leash area for dogs, tennis courts, children’s playground, and a dry rink. A great place to run, the park is also a lovely social environment for you and your friends, with even the possibility of meeting new friends on a sunny summer afternoon.

Concerns: Police are cracking down on illegal alcohol consumption, so keep your picnics dry, unless you want to pay a hefty fine.

Notable: Offering a picturesque view of the CN Tower this park is a great tourist destination. Summertime also brings possible freebies in the park; some days you can snag free samples from product promoters roaming through.

 

Osler Playground

On Argyle Street just west of Ossington Avenue

Visited: Saturday, 1:30 pm

Grade: Grade: B (Last year: A)

Attractions: Quaint and quiet, with lots of shade, the park’s flourishing trees and the well-shaded benches provide a cool breeze and relaxing break from the busyness of Ossington Avenue. It has a wading pool that’s open from 12 to 6 pm in the summer, playground, small field area, and a few grassy lounging areas.

Concerns: Grassy areas of grass could use some care.

Notable: Although located on Argyle Street, there are no socks in evidence.

 

Stanley Park

King Street West, between Stafford and Walnut streets

Visited: Saturday, 2:00 pm

Grade: A (Last year: A)

Attractions: The perfect in-the-city getaway, Stanley Park is a great place for a pit stop to or from work, or even to eat your lunch on your break. A favourite spot for dog owners, the park has a gated off-leash area, as well as tennis courts, an outdoor pool, and a baseball diamond. And that’s just the south side! Across the road on the north side is a children’s playground and grass space equipped with benches for picnics and birthday parties.

Notable: Shares its name with Vancouver’s first park, which dates to 1886.

 

Bellevue Square Park

Approximately one block north of Dundas Street West just west of Augusta Avenue

Visited: Wednesday, 3:55 pm

Grade: C (Last year: B-)

Attractions: Located in the heart of Toronto’s Kensington Market, Bellevue Square features a fountain, wading pool, and a statue of Canadian actor Al Waxman. The park is hub of activity that showcases the market’s diversity and charm, and its green space provides an area for much-needed relaxation during the summer months. Although family friendly, the park generally attracts young adults from the densely populated area.

Concerns: The washrooms appear to be permanently locked.

Notable: During the Upper Canada Rebellion, George Taylor Denison, who originally owned much of the market, used the area as a parade ground for volunteer cavalry troop.

Overheard: “I come here after performing at the café, sometimes with friends. It’s pretty nice.”

 

McCaul-Orde Park

Corner of McCaul and Orde streets

Visited: Wednesday, 4:50 pm

Grade: C+ (Last year: C+)

Attractions: Two benches and a small bit of green relief from the concrete and pavement of the surrounding neighbourhood.

Notable: The park is located close to Orde St. Junior Public School, whose open third floor space was created in the early part of the 20th century for children with tuberculosis.

Sonya’s Park

Oxford Street, between Augusta and Spadina avenues

Visited: Wednesday, 6:10 pm

Grade: B (Last year: B)

Attractions: Undergoing a redesign led by St. Stephen’s Community House, this park is bordered by several flower and plant beds and features a small children’s playground.

Notable: Named for Sonya Lunansky, who built the Augusta Fruit Market out of a small shop that she opened in the 1930s.

 

Making no attempt to emulate the past, the Art Gallery of Ontario stands in stack juxtaposition to the original Grange estate residence. The result is somewhere awe-inspiring like a space ship landing on the 19th century Toronto.

Making no attempt to emulate the past, the Art Gallery of Ontario stands in stack juxtaposition to the original Grange estate residence. The result is somewhere awe-inspiring like a space ship landing on the 19th century Toronto.Brian Burchell/Gleaner News

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