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NEWS (JULY 2016): Renewing Margaret Fairley Park

July 25th, 2016 · No Comments

Phase two additions include a new stage area

By Geremy Bordonaro

After a long wait, Margaret Fairley Park is set to undergo its second, and final, stage of revitalization this summer. Construction is expected to begin in the middle of July and finish this autumn.

The park’s space will be expanded, the wading pool will be improved, two play structures and a new stage area for fall fairs added, as well as more trees, plants, and seating. During phase 1 — completed in August of 2013 — old structures and a utility building were demolished, the current play structures installed, and new wooden furniture added.

“It’s really important as a community gathering place as there are not a lot of parks in Harbord Village”—Amy Furness, community volunteer

“At the time that the revitalization began it was just a somewhat neglected, fairly ordinary park. It had play structures that were nearing the end of their lifetime,” said Amy Furness, a community volunteer who sat on the redesign committee and who remembers a time when the space was not in good condition. “There was very little opportunity for more creative play and very little room for nature in the park.”

Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) said that he welcomes the upgrades but still sees room for improvement when it comes to the area’s parks.

“The area of Harbord Village is deficient in greenspace,” he said. “What we’re doing is to enhance the space we already have.”

Furness agreed.

“It’s really important as a community gathering place as there are not a lot of parks in Harbord Village,” she said. “In fact, there are no other parks in Harbord Village apart from that little Sally Bird adult park, which is for more structured use.”

The community played a large part in the redesign process, and worked with the councillor’s office, staff at Toronto parks, and the Harbord Village Residents’ Association to develop a plan for the renewal.

“We had a community event where people got to imagine what they wanted for the new park,” Furness said. “What came out of that was a really playful, nature-based, creative vision for a park that was not reflective of that.”

One of the major concerns of the community that is being addressed is the need for more space.

“Everyone has expressed a need for more open room in the park,” Furness said. “More room for unstructured play in the park. Picnic blankets, kicking around soccer balls, the ability to gather for that sort of thing.”

Dinny Biggs, who has lived in Harbord Village for over 30 years, also stressed the importance of having a community gathering space.

“You informally get to meet other parents and talk, just share ideas and funny things that are happening with raising kids,” Biggs said. “And now there’s similar things happening. I have a five-year-old grandson. When he comes to visit here I get him over to the park. It’s one of his favourite parks.”

Though the park’s construction schedule is slated to keep the park cut off for most of the summer, Biggs said she was unconcerned.

“We know the design will be better in the end.”

Phase two of the park renewal had been delayed until now due to the availability of funds. The $600,000 cost was more than was projected in the initial budget, and it took this long to secure the money.

But after a long wait, Amy Furness said she is anticipating the completion of the park’s renewal.

“We’re really looking forward to this process being over because it will let us turn the energy of community members towards programming and enjoying the park.”



Part two of our 2016 parks review (July 2016)

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

Grading our Greenspace (2015)




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