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FORUM: Making it green (Aug. 2020)

September 9th, 2020 · No Comments

Parks must grow with the city

By Mike Layton 

As summer slowly comes to a close, it is important to reflect on the ways that our city has developed during these challenging times. Our response to the pandemic has uniquely highlighted that investing in public green spaces and active transportation infrastructure means a better quality of life for Torontonians. 

Cities build parks so that residents can build community, and Toronto is globally known for our parks and natural environment. As our city continues to grow, our green spaces must grow, too. Our parks are much more than their name; they include open spaces, conservation lands, ravines, hydro corridors, schools, and other privately-owned, publicly accessible spaces. 

Since I have been Councillor for Ward 11, I have worked hard to maintain the necessary balance between urban intensification and the creation of green spaces that are fundamental for a high quality of life. Locally, this has translated into the opening and improving of several parks across the ward. I am proud to have worked with many of you, and to have seen firsthand the willingness of residents to work together to ensure a liveable Toronto for today, and for future generations. 

Located at 10 Dalton Rd., Joseph Burr Tyrrell Park is in the midst of a redesign. A consultant has been hired to develop a site analysis report and, based on this report as well as the feedback from a January 2020 online survey, they produced three high-level preliminary layout options for the park. These contain different ideas for play and passive recreation areas, pathways, and buffer zones. The redesigned park and playground will include: a new park layout, a new playground and play elements, improved accessible pathways, improved seating, updated plantings, and updated amenities such as water fountains and other aesthetic features. I hope to see construction begin in Spring 2021. 

The parkettes at Howland Avenue, Brunswick Avenue, Major Street, and Robert Street were completed in partnership with the BIA earlier this year, and are a shining example of ingenuity and community spirit. Situated among various streets in the Annex, they are envisioned to be environmentally conscious spaces boasting features such as pollinator plantings, increased bike parking, and amenities built from reclaimed, recycled, and sustainably sourced material. Alongside the newly constructed permanent cycle track, the streetscape on Bloor through the Annex has never been more inviting. 

The new Monsignor Fraser Park (which will undergo a renaming) is a partnership between the city and the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB). This new park opened for public use in late spring, in the early part of Stage 2, so that more people were able to get outside and use this space. The project utilized development charges from nearby developments to transform the existing asphalt schoolyard into a greener school yard/park that is accessible to the wider community. To ensure community access to the space, the City entered into an agreement with the TCDSB. 

The Robert Street Field remains in a state of construction, but we will soon have a new playground and passive park space at the corner of Robert and Sussex. The park will feature a new playground, shade structure, and other passive amenities to allow residents and students to gather and physically distance. This park will take the place of derelict tennis courts and an old ice hockey rink, and provide views into the renovated Robert Street Field on the University of Toronto property. 

If you have ideas or suggestions on how we can improve park spaces in your neighbourhood, I encourage you to reach out to my office Councillor_Layton@toronto.ca. I am always looking for opportunities to work with residents on improvements that ensure our green spaces are serving the needs of the local community, and would love to hear from you. 

Mike Layton is councillor for Ward 11 University—Rosedale.

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Tags: Annex · Columns · Opinion