Gleaner

Serving Toronto's most liveable communities with the Annex Gleaner and Liberty Gleaner

NEWS (JUNE 2016): New landscaping for Lennox Street

June 14th, 2016 · No Comments

Concerns raised about lack of consultation for Central Tech space

PHOTO COURTESY RON BERNASCH/JSW+ ASSOCIATES: The landscape architect overseeing the enhancements said the aim is to emulate a university campus.

PHOTO COURTESY RON BERNASCH/JSW+ ASSOCIATES: The landscape architect overseeing the enhancements said the aim is to emulate a university campus.

By Geremy Bordonaro

Improvements to the Lennox Street expanse between Central Technical School and its art centre are well underway, but residents attending a May 5 information meeting questioned whether the design reflected the best use of the land.

When the refurbished landscaping — now in progress — is done in late summer or early fall, the area will feature more walkways and spaces for students to gather, broken up by portions of foliage.

“What we’re really trying to provide is a campus feel, like if you went to U of T or Ryerson,” said Ron Bernasch, the landscape architect serving as the primary consultant on the improvements. “That’s really unique for a high school.”

A land survey revealed that the soil contained ash and cinder, so the initial designs had to be revised to salvage as many trees as possible, something that required adding more paving.

“Just providing that physical barrier allowed us to save as many trees as we could,” explained Bernasch. “The second part is that we tried to find an area in the middle of that central area where we could plant many trees. In order to do that we had to remove a metre of soil.”

Many residents at the information meeting, however, suggested that too many trees were removed in favour of the pavement, and that key community locations were being removed in favour of stage and “art” areas. They also suggested that the community wasn’t consulted enough and that their needs for a space to use after students were gone were largely being ignored.

“They brought forward these plans for that greenspace and it was a surprise to us that they were as far advanced as they were,” said Sue Dexter of the Harbord Village Residents’ Association. “The initial reaction [for us], it was kind of puzzling.”

“What we’re really trying to provide is a campus feel, like if you went to U of T or Ryerson”—Ron Bernasch, landscape architect

She’s skeptical about the hard surface that Bernasch has argued will help save trees, and believes more can be done to help involve the community in the process and get the most out of the new space.

“We have to learn how we can engage with one another,” she said. “Bit by bit we will. We’ve gone from total isolation to baby steps of positive cooperation.”

Ausma Malik (Ward 10, Trinity-Spadina) reiterated the importance of keeping both the community and school setting in mind when redesigning the campus. She did not say how much it would cost to rehabilitate the area, nor where the funds would come from.

“[Spaces like this] really are a vital part of how our school community functions, how students use it and benefit from it,” said the trustee at the meeting. “It’s such an important place where community comes together and uses it just as much and cares just as much about it.”

Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) agreed.

“We have to balance two different interests that should come together,” said the councillor. “This has to serve students during the day. It has to serve them well. In the context of the community, in the context of an efficient greenspace, I’m also always trying to see how we can maximize the amount of greenspace. So how do we balance both?”

Bernasch, though, said that despite the large amount of negative feedback, the plan still has merit.

“There’s always going to be pushback,” he said. “Members of the community may not agree, but I think this is going to be a great resource for the community.”

Indeed, the plan has been tweaked in response to several rounds of feedback.

“We’re encouraged by the changes in the plans,” Dexter said. “If there were less hard surface it would be even better.”

Calls to Central Technical School, as well as follow-up attempts to contact Ausma Malik, went unreturned.

 

READ MORE ABOUT CENTRAL TECH FIELD:

NEWS: Central Tech field renewal back on track (May 2016)

LETTERS: HVRA still on board for CTS plan (March 2016)

EDITORIAL: Ship to wreck (February 2016)

Construction halted at Central Tech: Student athletes launch online petition by Marielle Torrefranca (February 2016)

Agreement reached for Central Tech field (April 2015) by Annemarie Brissenden

To dome or not to dome, that is the question (February 2015) by Terri Chu

Editorial: Mobs don’t rule, nor do pawns (February 2015)

Dome plan inches closer (February 2015) by Brian Burchell

School board appeals ruling and loses, again (October 2014) by Brian Burchell

Editorial: A strategy run amok (September 2014)

Dome plan quashed by courts (September 2014) by Brian Burchell

Raucous meeting on CTS field (April 2014) by Annemarie Brissenden

 

READ MORE ABOUT CENTRAL TECH:

Central Tech alumni return to mark school’s centennial (November 2015) by Annemarie Brissenden

Central Tech celebrates 100 years (July 2015) by Annemarie Brissenden

Aircraft program grounded in 2004 (July 2015) by Annemarie Brissenden

Tags: Annex · News