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NEWS: City fails to maintain park (Sept. 2019)

October 8th, 2019 · No Comments

Staff unresponsive to concerns about Paul Martel Park

A graffiti-stained map depicts what once was of the Paul Martel Park.
BRIAN BURCHELL/GLEANER NEWS

By Juan Romero 

If you are on Madison Avenue, just north of Bloor Street West, you will see on the west side of the street a place with benches and grass right behind the Spadina bus station; that place is Paul Martel Park, a spot that the city has apparently forgotten about.  

Paul Martel is an architect who volunteered and helped design many parks in the Annex and the rest of the city. Back in 2014 the former Ecology Park was renamed in his honour. 

However, most people wouldn’t know the name of the park or its original purpose because there is no sign that indicates them. It was removed following a vandalism incident last year, and has yet to be replaced. 

Paul’s granddaughter, Rosalyn Farina-Martel, has contacted the City of Toronto regarding the sign’s absence by phone and email on numerous occasions. 

“My main frustration has been the lack of response from the city over the sign, because it has been over a year now, I think,” says Farina-Martel. “There has been no sign in the park and the renaming of the park was such a good tribute to all the contributions that my grandfather has made for the Annex and it’s very disheartening.” 

She says that someone returned one of her calls last January, and told her that a new sign had been ordered and would be installed within a matter of weeks.

Apart from the sign not being there, the current state of the park is awful. It is one of the worst maintained parks in the Annex and in recent years our yearly park reviews have not ranked it any higher than a “D”. This year it garnered an F grade and the following unenviable description: “Overall this park seems to have been forgotten by the city.”

On the Gleaner’s visit to the park, the grass was covered in litter, and there was no sign of any garden maintenance having been done. We also found a pillow on one of the benches and a mattress behind one of the trees. 

In the first few months following the park’s renaming, Paul Martel visited every Saturday with a gardening group to take on some of the maintenance of the space. When Martel decided he could not continue the work, the city took responsibility for the maintenance, and that’s when the state of the park began to deteriorate. 

Micky Fraterman was part of the volunteer group who worked with Martel on the maintenance of the park, and is also a member of the Annex Residents’ Association (ARA). She says the ARA has made efforts to bring attention to the park’s condition but has been told there is a lack of city staff to maintain parks. She says this response is surprising, because while Paul and his volunteer group were maintaining the park, the city would help them out a lot. 

“To be honest it was always a partnership. Paul would talk to Brian Green, a former area park supervisor, and ask for certain things that needed to be done. The city would actually maintain the park when we did not have time to do it. Things seems to have changed at the city,” says Fraterman. 

Farina-Martel says that for her, the situation points to a disrespect for her grandfather’s legacy. 

“My grandfather has been a huge contributor to the Annex for decades and he has spent a lot of work and a lot of effort into making it a wonderful place,” she says. “It is really sad to see the decline of the park. I only hope this will change soon, and we will see a sign in place as soon as possible.”

The Gleaner reached out to park supervisor Peter White through email and phone numerous times for comment, with no response forthcoming.

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Tags: Annex · News