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GRADING OUR GREENSPACE: Park it here (August 2019)

September 2nd, 2019 · No Comments

The best and the worst of our greenspaces

In this final instalment of this year’s Gleaner’s park evaluation once again Christie Pits score an A+ for its design, maintenance, and the sheer volume of activities and facilities there. Paul Martel Mark on Madison Avenue just north of Bloor can fall no further on our scale. It got an F because of the City’s utter neglect of the site.

Compiled by Juan Romero

Hillcrest Park

950 Davenport Rd.

Time: 2:00 p.m.

Grade: A+ (last year A+)

Reasons to go: Hillcrest Park is a sports-lovers paradise, there is always something fun to do. The park has a basketball court, a baseball field, four tennis courts, a tennis table made of stone, and an open area of grass where people can be found playing Frisbee. One side of the park is typically filled with sports activities, while there is lots of room for kids to play and for people to relax and sunbathe. Kids can enjoy the wading pool and park in their own little corner, while basketball is popular among teenagers. The park features an off-leash area for dogs securing its title as a park with variety.

Overheard: “Ohhhhhh!” A group of teenagers playing basketball, upon the ball falling in a puddle.

Did you know: The park was featured in the Toronto-set film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World in 2010.

Vermont Square Park

819 Palmerston Ave.

Time: 1:30 p.m.

Grade: A- (last year A)

Reasons to go: Nestled in the quiet and peaceful Seaton Village, this park has a lot of features to grab your attention. Some standout pieces include the playground, sandbox, chess board picnic tables, the wading pool, huge ornamental rocks, and the stage. There is a lot of space for dogs to run around, seating for those looking to relax, and pirate ship-themed playground equipment that is popular among children. The park could use some maintenance at this point, patches of grass in front of the stage having faded away over time. Nonetheless, it is really enjoyable for people of all ages. Additionally, the ice-skating arena and daycare centre make the park a community hub for everyone.

Overheard: “The sharks, they wanna eat us!”  Two kids playing in the pirate ship-themed playground.

Did you know: The park was renovated in 2012; the new design included the wavy bench, the playground equipment, sandboxes, and stage.

Paul Martel Park

10 Madison Ave.

Time: 2:00 p.m.

Grade: F (last year D+)

Reasons to go: Paul Martel Park is more of a green space than a park, and one that requires more regular maintenance. For starters there is plenty of litter all over the area and the sign that usually sits at the front to point out the park’s name was taken down due to vandalism, but never replaced. This makes it look less appealing. On the plus side the location is pretty calm, not many cars pass by and, despite it being located right behind Spadina station, the sound of the buses isn’t too loud or disruptive. There are also plenty of benches to sit on. Overall this park seems to have been forgotten by the city.  

Overheard: Buses leaving and arriving at Spadina station.

Did you know: Paul Martel is an architect who has volunteered throughout the years to build parks in the community.

St. Alban’s Square Park

90 Howland Ave.

Time: 12:30 p.m.

Grade: A (last year B+)

Reasons to go: We would highly recommend paying a visit to St. Alban’s Square this summer. The park is perfectly balanced in every sense. There is a good amount of green space as well as a sidewalk right through the middle of the park with both shady and sunny areas and lots of benches. The overall atmosphere is very relaxing as it is in the middle of a residential area, so not many cars pass by. The park is clean and also full of people as it is a very attractive place to take a break and enjoy the outdoors. Yet even when a lot of people are there, its large size offers plenty of open space.

Overheard: A man talking on the phone and dogs barking.

Did you know: St. Alban’s Square Park used to be owned by the historic St. Alban’s Cathedral.

Euclid Avenue Parkette

711 Euclid Ave.

Time: 1:30 p.m.

Grade: F (last year F)

Reasons to go: It’s hard to find reasons to go, so we’ll just suggest that you don’t bother. There are three benches beside a patch of dirt pretending to be a trail, and that’s it. The“parkette”sits right in-between a house and a building so there is no view of anything. You likely wouldn’t notice it unless you looked for it, or knew it was there already. Also you would think that being hidden, the place would be calm, right? Wrong, because there is a parking lot across the street from it. The only good thing I could find to say about this parkette is that if you are looking for a place to sit in the shade, you could find it here. However, it really only serves this purpose for people walking by to sit down and take a break.

Overheard: Birds chirping and cars passing by.

Did you know: There are plenty of good restaurants just steps away on Bloor Street. Go there and enjoy the food instead. 

Christie Pits Park

750 Bloor St. West.

Christie Pits Park has courts and fields for all kinds of sports. With the Toronto Raptors coming off an exciting championship season, the basketball courts have been very popular recently. Raptors fever has caused many young aspiring ball players to come out with their friends to Christie Pits for small pickup games. JUAN ROMERO/GLEANER NEWS

Time: 1:00 p.m.

Grade: A+ (last year A+)

Reasons to go: Christie Pits is one of the best parks in the Annex with something for everyone to enjoy. The park has seating areas, a playground, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, and a pool. You can also walk across it using the many sidewalks that go across the park. It is just off Christie Station which makes accessibility very easy. It is a great spot to take your children to play, if you want to play sports, or if you just want to relax and enjoy the weather. Despite being beside Bloor Street, the park is deep enough for you to get away from the sound of traffic. Christie Pits Park is a must-go this summer.

Overheard: “Get Buckets!!” A teenager said while playing a game of 21 with his friend.

Did you know: Every Sunday night from June 30 to August 29, Christie Pits Park will host an outdoor film festival.

Jean Sibelius Park

50 Kendal Ave.

Time: 12:00 p.m.

Grade: A+ (last year B+)

Reasons to go: Jean Sibelius Park is a great spot to enjoy a picnic with the whole family. It has a big playground for children to enjoy, as well as washrooms and lots of places to sit including picnic tables. Most of the seating areas are in the shade, and they are well placed all over the area. The park is in a residential area so it has a pretty relaxing atmosphere as long as you are away from the playground. The park is clean and the benches, the playground, water fountains, and washrooms are all in good shape. The neat thing about the park is the balance between playground and green space.

Overheard: Children laughing and yelling on the playground.

Did you know: The park is named after Jean Sibelius, who was a highly influential Finnish composer in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Boswell Parkette

4 Boswell Ave.

Time: 11:30 a.m.

Grade: B (Last reviewed in 2017, B)

Reasons to go: Boswell Parkette sits at the dead end of Boswell Avenue. It is located where Boswell Avenue and Avenue Road meet, right behind a TTC stop. This parkette serves a good purpose for those waiting for their bus to arrive. There are plenty of places to sit despite its small size. Almost all of the parkette is well covered by massive trees which shade the area during the middle of the day. There are two walkways across the area which connect Boswell Avenue with Avenue Road, making it easier and faster for residents to cross between the two streets without having to go around. There is some litter by the actual bus stop but not in the parkette. This location can get a bit noisy due to traffic from Avenue Road.  

Overheard: The sound of a TTC bus beeping as its platform lowered for a rider to exit. 

Did you know: The parkette is named after Toronto’s 24th mayor, Arthur Radcliffe Boswell. He served one term from 1883 to 1884. 

Jay Macpherson Green

255 Avenue Rd.

Time: 12:30 p.m.

Grade: A- (last year: N/A

Reasons to go: Jay Macpherson Green is a great spot with lots of green space, trees, and a walkway across the park. It is easily accessible and you will find many birds and benches to sit on. It is very clean and this is a little surprising due to the fact that it sits beside a very busy street with a lot of pedestrian traffic. Jay Macpherson Green serves as a spot where you can sit and relax, as well as one where you can take your kids to play a game of catch. The level of noise coming off Dupont Street is the only thing that might make the Green unappealing. This park is located right in front of the Sergeant Russell Parkette which has been under renovation since last spring. Since Sergeant Russell is not currently open, Jay Macpherson can be a great alternative to go to this summer.  

Overheard: “I’ve already done 3 km today…” A man told his jogging partner while crossing the park. 

Did you know: Jay Macpherson was a well recognized Canadian poet, who received the Governor General’s Award for her poetry book The Boatman in 1958. 

Jesse Ketchum Park

1310 Bay St.

The turf field at Jesse Ketchum Park is what really makes it unique compared to others. During the summer months the field is hardly ever empty. It is a huge attraction for those who practise the beautiful game. JUAN ROMERO/GLEANER NEWS

Time: 12:00 p.m.

Grade: A (last year: N/A

Reasons to go: It is spacious, there is lots of shade, lots of seating, and a good balance of green space and sidewalk. The first thing you will notice is the art structure sitting right in the middle of it. It is eye-catching and it draws your attention to the park. Then you will see the vast green space on offer, with various trees and lots of beautiful flowers in some areas. The seating is one of the best things, as there are many benches and they are well balanced and scattered across the area. If you enjoy playing soccer, Jesse Ketchum Park has a very well maintained turf field right behind the park itself, as well as some picnic tables. The park also sits beside Jesse Ketchum public school so during recess time it will get a little bit loud. Yet despite sitting on Bay Street, the traffic is not as loud as you would imagine. Most benches sit deep enough into the park that it makes it far enough for you to not be too bothered by the cars. Overall the park is mostly clean; there is some litter but not too much. 

Overheard: Children yelling and having fun during their lunch.

Did you know: Jessie Ketchum, who was a philanthropist in the early 1800s, was the first person to introduce sidewalks in Toronto. 

Walmer Road Parkette

227 Walmer Rd.

Time: 1:00 p.m.

Grade: C+ (last year: N/A

Reasons to go: There are positives and negatives to this parkette, some people will like it and some people won’t. It is located on Walmer Road very close to Casa Loma. In fact you can see part of Casa Loma from the benches at the parkette. The neighbourhood it sits in is extremely calm, I would say it is mostly local traffic that sporadically passes by. So if you are looking to just relax this is a great place. However, the parkette itself is very small, and it is even smaller this summer due to construction, which is taking up approximately one-third of an already small area. The parkette is somewhat hidden and it sits in the middle of the neighbourhood. There was a lot of litter, but the green space is quite nice and the flowers are very colourful. 

Overheard: Birds chirping

Did you know: Casa Loma was originally built to serve as the residence of Canadian financer and soldier Sir Henry Pellat. 

Wychwood Park 

76 Wychwood Ave.

Time: 1:30 p.m.

Grade: A (last reviewed in 2012, A+) 

Reasons to go: This is a great place to go with your kids. It has a huge playground with swings and even a splash pad. It has benches all around the playground for parents to look after their children. If you are just going by yourself and looking to relax then this park is also for you. There is a large green space on the other side of the park, which has benches, picnic tables, lots of trees and flowers, and is perfect to enjoy a relaxing time. The area as a whole is very clean and the green space is also great for dog owners, despite the fact that there is no official “off leash” area. The park is also home to Wychwood Barns, which hosts different events throughout the year, especially on weekends. Overall, it doesn’t matter what your plan is, Wychwood Park has something for everyone to enjoy. 

Overheard: “Go get it… good boy!!!!!!!!” A woman said to her golden retriever as she threw a ball for the dog to fetch. Did you know: The park is named after a forest in Oxfordshire County in south-east England, the birthplace of the park’s designer, Marmaduke Matthews.

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Tags: Annex · Life