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Part two of our 2016 parks review

July 25th, 2016 · No Comments

An expansive dog run, a spot for runners, and an upgrade underway

In this, part two of our annual survey of parks in the Annex, we step into new territory. The majority of parks reviewed this month are ones we haven’t covered in the past, and as in part one, we discovered great greenspaces mixed among the mediocre, comfortable niches, and one park that needs a lot of work. Also this month? An update on work at the Brunswick-College Parkette, which is showing a lot of promise.

Reviews by Geremy Bordonaro and Emily Rea.

Healey Willan Park

504 Euclid Ave.

Time: 12:30 p.m.

Grade: A (last year A)

Reason to go: Healey Willan Park is great for small children. The space contains many play structures and toys for kids, with room to spare. Parents have more than enough seating with a lot of good vantage points for keeping an eye on their young. Thanks to the fences and an eye for cleanliness, the park is more than safe to use. Plenty of varieties of trees give a good amount of shade in case the heat gets bad. Overall this park is a complete package in terms of a family park.

HealeyWeb

Overheard: “Are there laser guns in the game?”

Did you know: Healey Willan Park is located on the former location of the Sisters of the Church convent.

Brunswick-College Parkette

15 Brunswick Ave.

Time: 12 p.m.

Grade: N/A

Reason to go: Once an overgrown disaster that highlighted not only the lack of green space in the area, but also the general neglect of existing parks, it’s been approximately five years since efforts began to have the parkette revitalized. Those five years have seen design competitions, cooperation between Joe Cressy’s (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) office and the Harbord Village Residents’ Association, and much scrutiny. When the parkette reopens this fall, it will be renamed The Doctors’ Parkette, and feature decorative pavers, seating areas, and improved planting.

BrunswickWeb

Overheard: The whirring and humming of construction machinery and nearby waitresses taking orders at Caplansky’s.

Did you know: In 2011 the Harbord Village Residents’ Association held a design contest to help push the city to redesign the area.

Casa Loma Parkette

328a Walmer Rd.

Time: 11 a.m.

Grade: C

Reason to go: As the name implies, Casa Loma Parkette is just a short walk from Casa Loma. There is very little in this park save for a bench, a few trees, a picnic table, and a lot of free space, which has its positives and negatives. There is quite a lot of room to lie down on a blanket and relax or start an impromptu picnic. On the downside, there is very little shade, which may make it unbearable during especially hot summer days.

Overheard: “There’s a snapdragon shortage!”

Did you know: The nearby stables bear the names of the horses owned by Henry Pellatt, who lived in Casa Loma.

Village of Yorkville Park

115 Cumberland St.

Time: 4:00 p.m.

Grade: A

PHOTO BY EMILY REA/GLEANER NEWS: The Village of Yorkville Park is a natural extension of the area, and features some inventive uses of water as well as a piece of the Canadian Shield that is part art installation, part climbing structure.

PHOTO BY EMILY REA/GLEANER NEWS: The Village of Yorkville Park is a natural extension of the area, and features some inventive uses of water as well as a piece of the Canadian Shield that is part art installation, part climbing structure.

Reason to go: Village of Yorkville Park is located in the heart of the busy, posh shopping district. It is a perfect spot for people-watching or enjoying a drink on a hot day. Children enjoy scrambling up the big rock, which is a piece of the Canadian Shield. The park has a water feature and seating in both the sun and the shade. It does not feel like an oasis, but rather a natural extension of the cosmopolitan neighbourhood. It would be nice to see more green space for lounging, but in an area where real estate is at a premium, Yorkville Park makes the most of its space and is well integrated in the neighbourhood.

Overheard: “Your gelato matches your dress!”

Did you know: The park is designed as a collection of various landscapes in Canada, including the prairies and marshes.

Queen’s Park

47 Queen’s Park Cres.

Time: 4:30 p.m.

Grade: B+

Reason to go: Queen’s Park’s beautiful and relaxing landscape sits by the Ontario Legislature, surrounded by Queen’s Park Crescent. A thick canopy of trees shades the entire park, breaking only to reveal the large statue that lies at the centre of the park. The paths that radiate out from the statue are popular with commuters passing by and runners out for their daily jog. Queen’s Park has plenty of benches, but no other features — it is a park for running, walking, or sitting, not playing.

Overheard: “Who is that in the statue?”

QueensParkWeb

Did you know: The man in the statue at the centre of the park is King Edward VII, grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II.

Vermont Square Park

819 Palmerston Ave.

Time: 2:00 p.m.

Grade: A

PHOTO BY EMILY REA/GLEANER NEWS: Vermont Square, with its pirate playground, bocce ball courts, and ample space, is one of the best we reviewed this month despite the sandy areas where the grass has been worn down.

PHOTO BY EMILY REA/GLEANER NEWS: Vermont Square, with its pirate playground, bocce ball courts, and ample space, is one of the best we reviewed this month despite the sandy areas where the grass has been worn down.

Reason to go: After a refresh a few years ago, Vermont Square Park has one of the best playgrounds in the neighbourhood. Stylized to look like a ship, the play structure is inventive and popular among neighbourhood children. The park is spacious, with plenty of green space and seating. However, the field in the centre is worn down to dirt. Additionally, the area could use more trees to provide extra shade. Nonetheless, Vermont Square Park is one of the best parks in the neighbourhood.

Overheard: “Do we have to go home?”

Did you know: The park has bocce ball courts, a rarity in the city.

Huron Playground

495 Huron St.

Time: 5:00 p.m.

Grade: D+

Reason to go: Huron Playground is in desperate need of an update. The grass is worn down to dirt throughout the park, meaning there is no pleasant place to lounge. The area smells of the litter strewn around, and graffiti marks the play structures and outbuilding. The park itself is a reasonable size and is located in a quiet area. If Huron Playground were re-vamped, it could be a perfect after-school spot for children from nearby Huron Public School, but in its current state, the playground is deserted and dingy.

Overheard: Silence.

Did you know: Huron Playground is getting a renewal starting this year.

Bickford Park

468 Grace St.

Grade: B+ (last year A)

Time: 1 p.m.

Reason to go: Bickford Park serves as a great dog park. There’s a massive amount of space for dogs to run around and stretch out and dog bags and disposals are readily available. Despite this focus, however, there isn’t much for humans. The aged seating and park benches are very sparse outside the off-leash section, and while there is a baseball diamond in the park, with Christie Pits so close by, there isn’t much reason to use it. Dog owners should definitely have Bickford Park on their minds.

BickfordWeb

Overheard: “Hey yo! Boy, get off of her! Sorry about that.”

Did you know: Dogs stick out their tongues when they get hot in order to cool down.

 

READ MORE:

PART ONE: Green sanctuaries in the heart of the city (June 2016)

Grading our Greenspace (2015)

Tags: General