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Park marks

August 28th, 2015 · No Comments

This is the second instalment of Grading our Greenspace, The Annex Gleaner’s annual parks review. In this popular feature, we visit local parks and rate them on factors like amenities, cleanliness, and ambience.

To revisit part one, please see our website,

Let us know what you think of our assessment by dropping us a line at gleanereditor@

All reviews and photographs are by Justine Ricketts.

The grounds at Jean Sibelius Square are mostly shaded thanks to the tall lush trees overhead.

The grounds at Jean Sibelius Square are mostly shaded thanks to the tall lush trees overhead.

Joseph Burr Tyrrell Park

Brunswick Avenue, north of Bloor Street

Time: 12:45 p.m.

Grade: B (last year B-)

Reason to go: It is one of the bigger parks in this year’s review and is a safe play area for children due to its fencing at both entrances. It has a large paved area with lots of mature trees and lush greenery that provide shade in the hot sun. Sadly, the park only has one bench and so does not provide sufficient seating. There is a nicely sized playground with lots of sand, two slides, a swing set, and a climbing wall, but the playground equipment seems sparse and outdated. There is also a grassy area to the side of the playground where people can lie on the grass, and which makes for a great picnic spot.

Overheard: From a person picnicking in the grassy area of the park, “I missed your call? That’s weird.”

Fact: The park is named after Canadian geologist and cartographer Joseph Tyrrell. He discovered Albertosaurus dinosaur bones in Alberta near Drumheller in 1844. The town of Drumheller is often referred to as Dinosaur Valley because of the high concentration of fossils located in that area.


Sally Bird Park

194 Brunswick Ave.

Time: 12:30 p.m.

Grade: B (two years ago B+)

Reason to go: This quaint park is nestled between the homes on Brunswick Avenue and is largely shaded from the sun because of the tall maple trees overhead. It is the perfect place to take a break and cool off in the hot summer months. The lush greenery invites birds and squirrels to roam the area. It is also a scenic route through busy streets as it has a colourful mural on the wall of the park. There is even public exercise equipment and lots of seating.

Overheard: Squirrels scavenging for food.

Fact: The renovation of the former playground to an outdoor gym is part of the Recreational Infrastructure Canada Program, jointly funded by all three levels of government.


Margaret Fairley Park

100 Brunswick Ave.

Time: 12:10 p.m.

Grade: A (last year C)

Reason to go: It is situated in a well-maintained neighbourhood with a convenience store right across the street to quench your thirst and fill your stomach. The park is well-used and has a great atmosphere with log and stone slab benches, as well as a wading pool. There is ample seating provided by benches and four picnic tables located at the south end of the park, right under the trees. It is completely fenced and has lots of playground equipment including swings, slides, a climbing rope ladder, and a jungle gym. The play area also has various toys including plastic houses, building blocks, toy cars, and even shovels and buckets for the sandbox. The park has improved greatly maintenance-wise since last year’s review, which complained of cigarette butts and beer cans that littered the benches and ground.

Overheard: “Don’t you dare push me in the water!”

Fact: The park was named after Margaret Fairley, a Canadian writer, Oxford graduate, educator, and political activist.

Healey Willan Park is littered with toys from trucks to tricycles, so parents don’t need to bring their own.

Healey Willan Park is littered with toys from trucks to tricycles, so parents don’t need to bring their own.

Healey Willan Park

504 Euclid Ave.

Time: 1:10 p.m.

Grade: A (last year A)

Reason to go: The park is perfect for children as it is completely fenced and has ample seating. The brightly painted picnic tables are shaded under the trees while various benches surround the wading pool near the north end. There is a lush grassy area perched on a small hill for the best picnicking spot which also provides an excellent look-out for parents watching over their kids. The playground features various slides, swings, a basketball net, and a jungle gym.

Overheard: “So are we going to watch Minions or what?”

Fact: The park is named after long-lived Anglo-Canadian organist and composer Healey Willan. He is best known for his liturgical music, but he also composed more than 800 works including operas, symphonies, chamber music, and a concerto.


Hillcrest Park

950 Davenport Rd.

Time: 11:00 a.m.

Grade: A+ (last year A+)

Reason to go: This is one of the best parks seen in this year’s review. It is located just off Davenport Road and is an all-rounder that features a large wading pool, a lush community garden, a well-maintained tennis court, basketball court, baseball field, and a huge open space big enough for field games. There is even a public washroom that was surprisingly clean (rare for a public park). Ample seating is provided by benches scattered around the area and picnic tables under the trees, and the play area is equipped with all playground necessities including slides, swings, and a jungle gym. The park also features an enclosed off-leash dog park with a doggie fountain and plastic bags available. Sadly the park is unforgiving to anyone on wheels because it is located on top of a steep hill.

Overheard: From a person playing on the tennis court: “Even though my game is off today, you still can’t beat me! Sucks for you.”

Fact: Hillcrest Park’s wading pool is open Monday to Saturday from 12 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sundays from 11:30 a.m to 5 p.m.


Sgt. Ryan Russell Parkette

250 Avenue Rd.

Time: 10:50 a.m.

Grade: C (last year C)

Reason to go: Located near a major intersection, the park is a far cry from being peaceful. However, the grass is lush and the trees provide well-needed shade during the hot summer months. There is only one bench, which does not provide adequate seating. There are no fenced areas and the park is near a busy street and because of this it is not ideal for dogs.

Overheard: Cicadas after 17 years underground.

Fact: The park is named in honour of Sgt. Ryan Russell who died in the line of duty only a few blocks away after being hit by a stolen snowplow.


Bickford Park

468 Grace St.

Time: 12:45 p.m.

Grade: A (two years ago A)

Reason to go: It is a very spacious park with a huge soccer field and baseball field open to the public. The grass is well-maintained, tall trees line the sides of the park, and ample seating is provided by the picnic tables in the area. It is an off-leash zone, so is a great place to for dogs to play and romp around. There are even plastic bags available.

Overheard: Said by dog owner, “Come here boy! Come here!”

Fact: Bickford Park is right on the intersection of Harbord and Grace streets. It is less than five minutes away from Koreatown.

The graffiti behind the outdoor Alex Duff Memorial Pool at Christie Pits Park provides some colour to an otherwise bleak wall.

The graffiti behind the outdoor Alex Duff Memorial Pool at Christie Pits Park provides some colour to an otherwise bleak wall.

Christie Pits Park

750 Bloor St. W.

Time: 12:30 p.m.

Grade: A+ (two years ago A)

Reason to go: This 8.9-hectare park caters to everyone’s needs. It is located right beside Koreatown and is a large area with soccer fields, basketball courts, volleyball courts, and baseball fields that the Toronto Maple Leafs Baseball Club calls home. At the northeast corner of the park there is an artificial ice skating rink as well as the outdoor Alex Duff Memorial Pool. The park features a beautifully designed wading pool that is usually very busy in the summer months, and there is also an unofficial sunbathing area on its grassy hills. Right beside the wading pool is Christie Pits playground. The area is packed with playground equipment from swirly slides to brightly coloured spring riders.

Overheard: “Look Mommy! I’m rolling down the hill!”

Fact: Set to get a facelift (see that will improve safety and add community enhancements, the park is named after the Christie Sand Pits, which used to be located where the park is now.


Bloor-Bedford Parkette

248 Bloor St. W.

Time: 11:20 a.m.

Grade: B+ (two years ago C)

Reason to go: It is a nice park with a great atmosphere. Most of the benches are arranged in a semi-circle facing a fenced parking lot while the rest of the seating faces busy Bloor Street. There are shaded areas to hide away from the hot sun and, while the park is just off a major street, it is surprisingly clean.

Overheard: “Do you want to check if we can still buy tickets for PanAm?”

Fact: St. George subway station is situated right behind the park, which marks a great spot to rest and brace oneself for the rush of the subway ride below.

Euclid Parkette is a small green space behind Bloor Street West in Koreatown.

Euclid Parkette is a small green space behind Bloor Street West in Koreatown.

Euclid Parkette

711 Euclid Ave.

Time: 9:50 a.m.

Grade: D- (last year C)

Reason to go: This park doesn’t have much going for it. Located right behind a KFC, it often smells like fried chicken. The area is quite small, which wouldn’t be a bad thing if not for the poor maintenance. The dirt path is littered with wrappers, drink cans, and cigarette butts. There are flies everywhere, as well as a putrid smell coming from the garbage receptacle nearby. The low trees in the park do a good job of blocking out harsh UV rays, and it seems be a good hangout spot for smokers as many were seen on the day of this review.

Overheard: “I love Korean food, it’s just that some things are too spicy.”


Jean Sibelius Square

50 Kendal Ave.

Time: 11:45 a.m.

Grade: A (two years ago A)

Reason to go: The park provides plenty of shade and lots of room for kids to play. There are multiple picnic tables and the grass, which is free of garbage, is a perfect picnic location. The public washroom is clean. The Sibelius Square play zone offers a variety of playground equipment including swings, a rock climbing wall, and a modern jungle gym. It also has a separate area with smaller equipment for younger children.

Overheard: “Si vous voulez manger, allez vous asseoir à la table” (If you want to eat, go sit at the table).

Fact: The park is named after Jean Sibelius, a Finnish violinist and composer of the late-Romantic and early-modern periods.


Ed and Anne Mirvish Parkette

Bathurst and Bloor streets, in front of Bathurst Station

Time: 12:05 p.m.

Grade: C (two years ago C+)

Reason to go: This is a small patch of greenspace in a concrete oriented area. It is clean and well-maintained but, unfortunately, it is in an awkward location. Right in front of Bathurst station and off Bathurst Street, the parkette is always noisy with the sounds of rushing commuters, cars, and streetcars driving by. The area is not fenced off from the street, which may cause trouble for parents with young children. There is also insufficient seating as there is only one bench.

Overheard: “Can I sit here?”

Fact: The park is named in memory of Ed and Anne Mirvish and their contribution to Canadian business and theatre.

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