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FOCUS: New park imbued with nostalgia (Apr. 2021)

May 12th, 2021 · No Comments

Interactive green space to accompany development at Bloor and Bathurst

COURTESY CITY OF TORONTO/WESTBANK CORP.

By Nabahat Hussain 

The City of Toronto announced the latest addition to the Westbank development at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst this month – a park to accompany the mixed-use residential development. Although there was no park in the original plans for the site, Councillor for Ward 11, University-Rosedale, Mike Layton, said that at one community consultation that resulted in five different design suggestions for the lot, “every one of them had a park.”

COURTESY CITY OF TORONTO/WESTBANK CORP.

The City’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation department (PRF) laid out the details of the project during a virtual public information session on March 25th. The project’s senior project coordinator, Carol Martin, and senior public consultation coordinator, Rajesh Sankat, told the public that the park will be developer-delivered. This means the developer (Westbank) and PFR worked on the design together and it will be funded by the city, through ‘development charges’ set aside for Parks and Recreation, as well as by the developer and some donations.

Designed by Vancouver-based PFS Studios, a leading planning, urban design and landscape architecture studio, the park will be divided into two zones; the passive zone serving as a place for peaceful walks, and the active zone for socializing.

COURTESY CITY OF TORONTO/WESTBANK CORP.

Swirling pathways will emulate the swirls under the Honest Ed’s sign, and the so-called “inspirational pathway” will work its way around various “garden rooms.” 

From Bloor Street, people will be able to walk through green space friendly to birds and pollinators alike, and move their way towards the main pavilion. 

As detailed in the public meeting, the areas are divided by use: the ‘Markham forecourt’ will feature an elevated circled stage with tables for dining, the ‘north terrace’ on the eastern wall will serve as a quieter locale for seating, the ‘raised garden room’ and ‘garden room’ are two points within the main path for nature lovers.

Blossom trees will stand in between the greenery, with shrubbery and flowering bushes to dispel any concerns about a lack of colour. Cherry red chairs and tables, as well as a mural facing the Markham forecourt are meant to brighten and bring even more vitality to the park space.

Other features include mood lighting under the twisting benches, and a fountain intended for interactive play. 

“It’s not a huge park,” remarked Councillor Layton, “but it’s going to have a little bit of everything for a wide range of people.” 

COURTESY CITY OF TORONTO/WESTBANK CORP.

PFR says the focus of its design was on making the space interactive rather than just decorative, and hopefully it will serve as community hub for families, residents, university students, tourists and anyone passing through town.

Parallels to Honest Ed’s can also be found in the choice of amenities. Affordable housing can relate to the store having been an affordable place to shop. The marketplace along with the already large variety of shops around the intersection, ties into the store’s expansive selection (reminiscent of its colossal size). The Honest Ed’s alley, undoubtedly familiar to longtime residents, will have artisan shops; playing into Mirvish Village’s history of being a place for artisans to sell their work.

By next year, the community can finally look forward to seeing some aspects of the familiar, nostalgia-  inducing discount shop return.

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Tags: Annex · News