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GRADING OUR GREENSPACE (JUNE 2017): Survey reveals significant upgrades

June 30th, 2017 · No Comments

PHOTO BY NATHALIE RODRIGUEZ/GLEANER NEWS: Taddle Creek Park’s planters enhance its natural beauty. Exemplifying the best of community green spaces, the park earned top marks for being a relaxing oasis in the heart of the Annex.

Some parks still suffer from litter and disrepair

Grading our Greenspace returns this month in the first of a three-part series. For this popular feature, we assess many of the parks in and surrounding the Annex considering factors like functionality, safety, cleanliness, seating, and shade. As in past years, our grades are widely varied: after a significant renovation, Christie Pits earned top marks for variety and improved play equipment. Other parks, meanwhile, suffer from lack of maintenance, litter, and general proximity to fast food garbage from Bloor Street West. What’s your favourite local park? Email to let us know, and tell us how we did on our assessments.

Compiled by Geremy Bordonaro and Nathalie Rodriguez


Doctor’s Parkette/College-Brunswick Parkette

15 Brunswick Ave.

Time: 11:30 a.m.

Grade: B (last year: none)

Reason to go: This parkette is barely recognizable from its former self. What was once a dirty and unpleasant patch in the middle of the stretch of College Street between Spadina Avenue and Bathurst Street is now a stylish and clean place to relax during the day. The area has a lovely modern design with ample seating and light postings. Plants and trees are still young and need some time to grow, but show promise. We have our doubts, however, that the park will remain in this condition for much longer, as its past still looms: graffiti has already started to appear around the edges of the seating area.

Overheard: “Hey Mom, check out this sweet jump!”

Did you know: The medical facilities that are close to the park inspired the name.


Euclid Parkette

711 Euclid Ave.

Time: 2:00 p.m.

Grade: D- (last year: D-)

Reason to go: There is no rational reason to come to this park. The only reason this place does not fail is that it does have something resembling seating and trees. The only changes Euclid Parkette has seen have been for the worst: flower and plant life are snuffed out and have long since died, benches are still slowly degrading, and a myriad of interesting types of garbage litter both the path and nearby greenery. The smell is the worst possible part: a scent of all the garbage receptacles of nearby stores mixed with the awful deep-fried smell of the local KFC/Taco Bell. Don’t come here.

Overheard: A nearby parked car blasting Migos’s hit rap anthem “Bad and Boujee”.

Did you know: There is some evidence to speculate that the nearby Korea Town used to be Greek Town.


Christie Pits Park

750 Bloor St. W.

Time: 2:15 p.m.

Grade: A+ (last year: B+)

Reason to go: Last year Christie Pits found itself in the unfortunate position of having an endless amount of construction going on. Now it is back to being an excellent park. The sheer amount of space and things to do, all kept in excellent condition, is frankly staggering. There are beautiful flower beds, many different types of trees, rolling hills, basketball courts, ping pong tables, and a new and improved play-set for children. The key draw of Christie Pits has always been the baseball fields. These baseball fields are excellent and usually full of determined players during the afternoon. Overall Christie Pits has become a great park once again and we look forward to whatever changes await it in the future.

Overheard: “I’m hitting all dingers today!”

Did you know: Officially called Willowvale Park until 1983 when the city just went with the name everyone else uses: Christie Pits.


Seaton Park/Albany Parkette

Albany Avenue, north of Bloor Street West

Time: 2:30 p.m.

Grade: B (last year B)

Reason to go: Albany Parkette is just on the south side of Bathurst Station. The place is filled with graffiti art on walls, garbage bins, checkered tables, signs, and the fence surrounding the space. As for the checkered tables, the seats along them are destroyed, with some missing the wood placed on top of the brick seat. Plant-wise there isn’t much, but there was tons of green aside from the grass being dry. Generally people just stop by the park for about five minutes to take a call or organize their belongings when exiting the subway. It’s a decent area to stop by for a bit although it could use some renovation to create a more comfortable seating place.

Overheard: Screeching from the train coming from the nearby subway grating.

Did you know: The parkette was built in the 1960s, and was constructed after the subway was built.


St. Alban’s Park

Barton Street and Albany Avenue

Time: 3:00 p.m.

Grade: A (last year: none)

Reason to go: St Alban’s is a gorgeous park with a pathway marked by young trees. Once the trees have fully grown it will add a green canopy to the park. There are plenty of seats for when people who choose to sit on benches rather than setting a blanket on the grass, along with plenty of cool shade. There is more than enough room for a dog to run.

Overheard: “Good boy!” said a man belly-rubbing his dog.

Did you know: The Jane’s Walk festival often passes by St Alban’s Park.


Gwendolyn MacEwen Park

Walmer Road and Lowther Avenue

Time: 1:30 p.m.

Grade: B+ (last year: none)

Reason to go: Gwendolyn MacEwen Park is lovely. It’s a gorgeous little space for members in the community to have some alone time. The set up is very basic: six benches and a couple of flowers here and there. The only down side is with certain benches there’s no shade causing the hot sun to strike right into your eyes. Despite the lack of shade, the park’s elegant simplicity makes it a unique beauty.

Overheard: The rustle of the wind blowing through nearby trees.

Did you know: Gwendolyn MacEwen received the Governor General’s Literary Award twice: for The Shadow-maker in 1969 and for Afterworlds in 1987, which was awarded posthumously.


Sally Bird Park

194 Brunswick Ave.

Time: 2:15 p.m.

Grade: B- (last year B)

Reason to go: Sally Bird Park is just a ten-minute walk from Harbord Collegiate Institute, making it a hangout spot for high-schoolers, which has its pros and cons. Pro: students have a place to ramble on about their high-school drama. Con: students taking up most of the space when there’s barely any space to begin with. As a result no one else in the community has the opportunity to use the workout equipment, which just lies there untouched and rusted. No one wants to work out surrounded by teenagers spitting onto the grass. The park is in decent condition, with enough shade for hot summer days, and a water fountain. But there could be more benches as there is only one. Overall the park would be better if it provided access to all with a larger green space.

Overheard: “Yo bro!”

Did you know: Sally Bird Park once contained a playground, but was it renovated by request of the community, which wanted to have workout equipment for those in the area to easily access a free workout structure.


Taddle Creek Park

Bedford Road and Lowther Avenue

Time: 2:00 p.m.

Grade: A+ (Previous year A+)

Reason to go: Taddle Creek Park is busy with people of all ages coming to this location for various reasons. Whether they’re just walking by, going to the playground, having a chat with a friend or just need a place to sit and relax, this is the place. It’s peaceful and contains enough seats to serve all, including metal benches surrounding a fountain sculptured as a pot. The fountain provides a peaceful sound as the water hits the floor and birds chirp in melody, and gorgeous pink tulips surround the area, making it more lively during the spring and summer. Since this park is more populated than others it’s hard to maintain, but so far the well-maintained garbage bins are well used, as evidenced by the lack of litter.

Overheard: A nearby neighbour mowing his lawn mid-afternoon.

Did you know: A river used to flow through the park. It had a variety of names in the past, including Brewery Creek, Little Don River, Goodwin Creek, University Creek, Wolz Creek, but the park is named for the one most commonly used: Taddle Creek.


Ed and Anne Mirvish Parkette

In front of Bathurst subway station

Time: 1:20 p.m.

Grade: D- (last year D+)

Reason to go: This small parkette located in a busy and noisy street could’ve been used as a spot for people to sit down for a bit. But the park has nowhere to sit, only a single bench under a dying tree that is covered in bird droppings, a dirty napkin, and peanut shells. Little effort is made to maintain the plants. The flowers planted off to the side were dry and so was the grass. Until it gets cleaned up, this park will remain a poor legacy to the Mirvishes.

Overheard: Man outside Bathurst Station begging for change.

Did you know: With Honest Ed’s transformation soon coming, the nearby sign on Markham and Bloor streets has been moved to be refurbished and possibly hung at the Ed Mirvish Theatre.


Joseph Burr Tyrrell Park

Brunswick Avenue, north of Bloor Street West

Time: 3:00 p.m.

Grade: C- (last year: none)

Reason to go: Joseph Burr Tyrrell Park, down Dalton Road, is quite small and in need of renovation. The playground has a decent amount of equipment including slides, swings, a rock climber, and a seesaw, all of which are rusted and covered with graffiti. It’s a feature that extends to the fence surrounding the park, a picnic table, and a bench that lies just outside the fence. On the good side people walking by get to view lovely red roses in planters, but of course there’s graffiti on the flower planters to ruin the sight.

Overheard: “I learned middle C all by myself,” said a young girl while on the swings.

Did you know: The sign of the park incorrectly spells Tyrrell as Tyrell. Joseph Burr Tyrrell was a Canadian geologist, cartographer, and mining consultant.


Huron Street Playground

495 Huron St.

Time: 1:15 p.m.

Grade: B+ (last year D+)

Reason to go: Huron Street Playground is a calming, clean park with tons of people biking by. After last year’s renovation it’s now the perfect location to enjoy the outdoors. It has a small playground for children to enjoy with new equipment, including a net climb and swings. The atmosphere is clean, with a pathway going through the park and plenty of benches in fine condition, along with logs placed in various spots for seats. Although the fence surrounding the park is rusted, it is overall a peaceful setting in which to relax and eat lunch or read a book. Not worth travelling a distance to, but great for members in the area that are just a walk away.

Overheard: A family of three singing along to One Direction while walking by the park.

Did you know: Approximately 7 to 8 years ago students at University of Toronto fixed the playground by fundraising and planting.


Huron Washington Parkette

Huron Street and Washington Avenue

Time: 2:30 p.m.

Grade: B- (last year A-)

Reason to go: Just by University of Toronto lies Huron Washington Park, mostly a place for children with benches for parents to watch over them. Other than that there isn’t much else to do, as there are picnic tables, but they are torn apart, cracked, and not very clean. It’s hard to imagine who would enjoy eating there. Plenty of trees provide shade, but there’s very little grass, just some dry soil.

Overheard: “Look at that one!” a middle-aged women said to her husband, pointing to a pigeon.

Did you know: The nearby University of Toronto Schools was intended to be two separate schools when founded by the University of Toronto in 1910.


Correction (June 28, 2017): The print version misspelled Greenspace in the introduction, and stated that Gwendolyn MacEwen received the Governor General’s Literary Award for The Shadow-make, instead of The Shadow-maker.



GRADING OUR GREENSPACE: Meet our parks supervisor (August 2016)

Part two of our 2016 parks review (July 2016)

PART ONE: Green sanctuaries in the heart of the city (June 2016)

Grading our Greenspace (2015)


Tags: Annex · Life