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FORUM (Oct. 2017): Building a better Bickford Park

November 2nd, 2017 · No Comments

Large fenced off-leash area for dogs

The new and improved Bickford Park is a great place to take in the autumn leaves. It features large fields, a customized dog park, and new benches. GEREMY BORDONARO/GLEANER NEWS

By Mike Layton

Bickford Park has something for everyone. It is highly programmed with many residents competing for space for youth baseball, adult softball, pick-up soccer, off-leash dogs, tobogganing, and simply enjoying the natural beauty of the park.

Despite its natural beauty and heavy use, Bickford Park has been a source of frustration for many residents. Soon after taking office in 2010, I was approached by neighbours about making changes to the park that might help relieve some of the conflicts that existed.  While there wasn’t consensus on what needed to be done, everyone agreed something needed to be done.

New Bickford Park, while not perfect, has become an improved experience for all park users.

Knowing that conversations about off-leash dog areas often lead to difficult discussions, we initiated a thorough consultation process, aiming to gather perspective from as many stakeholders as possible before making recommendations to build a better Bickford Park. All our neighbours, however they used the park, needed to be part of a lasting solution.

Over fours years, we held regular meetings with a stakeholder committee, community open houses, and collected public opinion surveys. Developing an understanding of how others experience the park was at the core of getting the changes that Bickford Park needed to better function.

Consultants were hired to work with the City of Toronto’s landscape architecture team to bring together plans for the park. One of the approaches we took was to look at the surrounding park spaces (in this case Christie Pits, Bickford, and Art Eggleton parks) and determine how we might be able to ensure that all the parks in this area of the city were providing a variety of programs and opportunities to local residents.

I can confidently say that new Bickford Park, while not perfect, has become an improved experience for all park users.

I would like to offer my deepest gratitude and thanks to all those residents who participated in this long consultation process. Your commitment and dedication have resulted in a better park for all!

The new pathways allow for an accessible entranceway into the park and a better experience moving around the space. The new tree planting reinforces the park’s natural beauty. The large fenced off-leash area has led to fewer conflicts between dogs, kids, and sports players. And by building a second T-ball diamond in Art Eggleton Park, a new space has been created for the next generation of neighbours to enjoy our outdoors.

New challenges will continue to emerge within the park, as they do in all parks, but the trust and strength of the relationships we have built through planning the new Bickford park will help us face them together.

Realizing the potential Bickford Park contained is one of my proudest achievements as councillor for this area. And one that I hope all who put time into the project can say they are proud of as well.

Mike Layton is the councillor for Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina.

 

READ MORE BY MIKE LAYTON

FORUM: Recognize and reconcile Canada at 150 (July 2017)

FORUM: San Francisco a model to follow (April 2017)

FORUM: Tolls, taxes, and Toronto (February 2017)

FORUM: Seeing our neighbourhood through new eyes (December 2016)

FORUM: We can do better: Dangerous summer for Toronto pedestrians and cyclists (October 2016)

FORUM: Curious story of Christie Pits pool liner ends in extended hours at Alex Duff (August 2016)

FORUM: A tribute to a friend (June 2016)

FORUM: Large problem, small solution (March 2016)

FORUM: Happy New Year from a new Dad with a new perspective (January 2016)

 

Tags: Annex · Opinion