Residents discuss final designs of new Dufferin Peel Park

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The fourth and final public meeting for Dufferin Peel Park brought a handful of residents together to discuss and review the final design concept brought forth by Corban and Goode Landscape Architecture and Urbanism.

“It was pretty exciting from Day 1,” said Garth Goode, the lead landscape architect on the project.

“The Ward 18 community is obviously interested and very passionate about creating a new city park because it’s one of the coolest things you can be a part of. It’s a rare opportunity.”

The meeting, held Tuesday, Nov. 18 at the Streetcar Developments Presentation Centre on Gladstone Avenue, had residents sharing thoughts, ideas and concerns about the park’s design.

The new greenspace is part of the condo development project at 11 Peel Ave., but will be situated to the west side of the site on city-owned land at 405 Dufferin St.

The three previous meetings were held in March, June and July by Ward 18 Davenport Councillor Ana Bailao, the city’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation department and the landscape architects.

The project has a fixed budget of $2.1 million, which was provided by the developer, Streetcar Developments. There is no additional funding provided; therefore the goal of the meeting was to nail down the community’s priorities regarding what aspects in the final design hold more value in the end.

The final concept, a combination of two options presented at the third meeting in July, shows the park, located at the base of the new Carnaby condos currently under construction at Queen and Gladstone, with an abundance of trees, wood-panelled stepped seating, a large green space in the centre and water features, such as jets, misters and fog located in the north end. There’s also grove pocket park, a smaller greenspace within the park, that will have shade pavilions near the north corner, seating and proper lighting throughout the park.

One area resident raised the issue the central green space would be used heavily as a dog park. Her concern was not necessarily about the feces left behind, but the smell of urine that would linger and tarnish the park.

Although Goode agreed it could be an issue, he also conceded that coming up with a solution would be a “tough nut to crack.” But it didn’t seem to bother attendee Joe Boliero, a resident near Dufferin and Dundas Streets.

“It is what it is, we just got to deal with it,” he said. “We can’t prevent people for bringing their dogs out there.”

Boilero, who has been part of the consultation process since its first meeting in March, was more concerned with the empty wall space at the south end that would be the base of a proposed bike path that would run along the West Toronto Rail Path near the wooded seating area and connect to Dufferin Street.

Boilero, along with a couple other residents, doesn’t want it to be used as a “graffiti canvas,” which would ruin the overall look and feel of the park. The group unanimously preferred that a mural or some form of art cover it up.

According to Stewart McIntosh, the project coordinator with the city’s Park, Forestry and Recreation Department, said the bridge is only a proposed concept and has not been approved by the City of Toronto or Metrolinx as yet.

“We’re still in discussion to determine what their needs are as well as staging,” McIntosh said.

“From that they’ll let us know what their needs are and we use that to determine how far we can build the park without compromising the usability and structural underpinnings.”

Cyclists, however, wouldn’t be able to ride their bike into the park with the proposed bridge, instead they would use a bike rail along the side of the seating area to walk their bikes into the park.

The group spent a portion of the meeting choosing which water feature would be best and its potential costs. The room was initially divided when it came to choosing between interactive jets that came up from the floor or misters located on the 2.8-metre high decorative feature wall at the north end of the park.

In the end, jets were chosen because they could be turned to misters as it was just a matter of adjusting a setting.

The shade pavilions, just above the wall, were also a hot topic as the initial design wasn’t well received. Many thought the glass and metal combination made the structure look like a bus stop. Instead wood and stone pavilions were preferred for overall aesthetic reasons.

By the end of the night, residents seemed pleased with what Goode and his team came up with for the future of the Dufferin Peel Park and said they looked forward to its completion, which has a rough, tentative date of September 2015.

“I love the final concept,” Boilero said. “I think they’ve done a fabulous job and they listened to the community. I trust the team now to finish it and put the final touches on the masterpiece.”

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Originally published in Parkdale Villager
November 21st, 2014

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