As many of you know, the Dundas-St Clarens Parkette is a small but important greenspace in our community. However, the park is underutilized and in need of improvement to better serve our community - now and into the future. I have been able to secure Section 42 funds from a nearby development to make improvements to the Dundas-St Clarens Parkette.
Earlier this year, I hosted a community meeting to hear from residents on ways they would like to enjoy the park and what they would like to see incorporated into this public space. Many of you attended and provided important input on how we could improve the park.
In September, I followed up with the Dundas West BIA and invited residents to offer their feedback on the concept designs staff developed based on the feedback collected during the first public meeting and during the Dundas West Festival.
I am excited to share with you the following concept design that showcases the Dundas/St. Clarens Parkette as a place to gather with your friends and neighbours, to enjoy the community gardens, play a game of chess or attend a community market/performance.
I look forward to your feedback on this new park concept as we work to prepare a final concept for the park and begin construction in the summer of 2017.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss this project further, you can contact me at 416-392-7012 or via email at [email protected]
I am hosting our annual Ward 18 Community BBQ in Campbell Park (225 Campbell Ave) on Sunday, June 21st and there will be plenty of entertainment and activities for the whole family. Did you know that City of Toronto Recreation staff offer free community programming and affordable community dinners in Campbell Park through many months of the year?
Campbell Park Saturday Suppers run every Saturday until the end of September and include a campfire, crafts and yummy food. Recreational eating was never so much fun or so healthy! The park also features sandplay and a wading pool.
The gardening program runs from May-October, with fun canning workshops and campfires at the end of the growing season! For information and to get involved in these programs contact Marina: [email protected]
Click on the image or this link to view the full pdf version of this notice.
[This article originally appeared in the Winter 2014/15 issue of Spacing Magazine, so you’ll have to forgive the opening paragraph. But isn’t it great that it’s spring now and warmer weather is around the corner instead of colder?]
It’s an early autumn Saturday afternoon and the chill in the air hints at colder weather around the corner. A hot coffee would hit the spot. Luckily, the shipping container café by the basketball court is open for business.
“All our packaging is biodegadeable,” I’m informed as I’m handed my Americano and veggie samosa. I wrap my hands around the cup, settle down on a bench, and enjoy a coffee from Toronto’s first shipping container café in a park.
McCormick Park, located southwest of Dundas Street and Dufferin Street, is not a park hurting for amenities. In its 1.5 hectares, there is a recreation centre with an indoor pool, a skating arena, a bocce court, a little free library, a basketball court, a wading pool, a baseball field, and a playground.
The park also benefits from an engaged group of residents called the Friends of McCormick Park who help care for an animate the space. When this group surveyed the community on what they wanted to see in the park, food was a frequent answer.
Friends group member Adriana Beemans says she and her colleagues were inspired by the community-drive café in Dufferin Grove Park.
“It helps strengthen community,” she says. “There’s something nice about sharing a coffee and talking with someone—it makes it more of a community gathering space.”
Offering food and drinks can also help animate a park in the winter, getting people outside in the cold and dreary months. “In the evening, having hot chocolate or apple cider makes that experience much nicer,” Beemans says.
Unfortunately in Toronto, being able to buy food from a café in a park is rare—even more rare is finding food that isn’t pizza, hot dogs, or hamburgers. The Friends wanted food that was local and healthy.
City Councillor Ana Bailão was supportive of the idea and approached the arena about opening up the building’s unused kitchen to the park, but they weren’t interested.
Enter that ubiquitous symbol of urban pop-ups everywhere: the shipping container.
Bailao contacted Kevin Lee at Scadding Court Community Centre, which launched the successful Market 707 shipping container market and has developed “Business out of the Box” program to bring the idea to other communities. SCCC advised on the park café project, obtaining and outfitting the shipping container for café use. The cost was covered by the City of Toronto’s community benefit funds from the Planning Act, Section 37.
The café is being run by Aangen Community Centre, a non-profit social service agency that relies on projects like the café, rather than grants, to funds its programs. It was important to have a non-profit run the café, Beemans says, so that any profit is put back into the community.
Aangen’s philosophy is about creating healthy lives and healthy communities, Executive Director Gurbeen Bhasin says. The café offers work experience and local employment for those who are in need, and she’s quick to point out that they use all local farm products and serve organic, fair trade coffee, all for under $5.
“Aangen has been wonderful in working with us in finding healthy snacks at an affordable price point,” Beemans says.
The café also helps tie the community centre in with the park, Bailão says, bringing more programming outdoors. “We have to stop thinking about programming just inside the four walls of the community centres and bring it outside.”
Indeed, Bhasin was excited speaking about the potential for activities centered around the café, from nutrition classes to movie nights to Sunday brunch. “We can explore lots of things,” she says.
Bailão hopes to see the idea replicated in other parks. There has been “great interest” from other councillors already, she says.
However, she adds that City parks staff had been somewhat concerned that shipping container cafes might quickly start popping up in parks around the city, so the McCormick Park Café will be studied for a year as a pilot project. “I’m sure there’s going to be some growing pains.”
Meanwhile, Bhasin says residents are still discovering the café, but first impressions are often positive. “They’re like, ‘wow, we didn’t know this was here,’” she says. “They’re excited about it.”
“I think people are truly impressed that we did this,” Bhasin says. “And it’s fun. It’s like, can this really happen?”
Photo by Heather Jarvis
City of Toronto commemorates the life of Jenna K. Morrison with a Reflexology Footpath in Dufferin Grove Park
Today, Councillor Ana Bailão (Ward 18 Davenport) and City staff joined Darlene Burke, (mother), Florian Schuck (husband), Lucas (son), friends and members of the Dufferin Grove Park community to honour the life of Jenna K. Morrison with the opening of a reflexology footpath with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Jenna Morrison was a loving daughter, mother and devoted wife who passed away suddenly as a result of a traffic accident. Jenna was a yoga instructor, a Thai massage therapist, and a very spiritual person. Her loss was a great blow to her community.
"The tragic loss of a daughter, mother and wife is a devastating experience. The City is proud to honour the life, spirit and work of Jenna K. Morrison with the first Reflexology Foot Path in a public park in Ontario, here in Dufferin Grove Park," said Mayor Rob Ford. "As one walks the path barefoot or in socks, the sole, and therefore acupressure points are massaged which stimulate parts of the foot to improve physical health."
"Jenna Morrison lived her life as an active and well-loved member of our Ward 18 community. Today we celebrate Jenna's life and contributions by opening this reflexology footpath. Together, we have worked to realize Jenna's dream and also provide a permanent public amenity in Dufferin Grove Park." said Councillor Bailão.
Jenna discovered the reflexology footpath many years ago. Based on Chinese medicine, the footpath uses various textures which stimulate points on the feet to improve physical health. Jenna always wanted to build a path like this in Toronto. Today the path becomes a reality.
"I was fully aware from the beginning of this project that I was functioning as an ambassador for Jenna’s vision," said Florian Schuck, her husband. "This path is unique, not only to this park, but as unique as Jenna was to her friends and family and the people she touched."
"The infinity loop design of the path connects us to her and us to ourselves and us to each other with no beginning and no end," said Darlene Burke, Jenna's mother. "It is also emblematic of the spiritual, emotional and mental and physical worlds showing the interconnectedness which surrounds all of humanity."
"It has been an honour to collaborate with Florian and the City on this very unique project. To the best of our knowledge this is the first reflexology path to be installed in an Ontario municipal park and I can’t think of a better place for it. Part memorial, part healing centre and part secret garden, this is a truly one of a kind park amenity for a one of a kind community," said Howard Nauboris, Landscape Architect, Cosburn, Nauboris Ltd.
The path consists of a bed made of concrete in which cobblestones of various shapes and sizes are embedded to various degrees. Some are upright while others are flat, protruding the surface of the concrete at slightly different heights. The path begins simply and progresses to several degrees of difficulty. One does not have to keep moving along the path, but may choose to stay in one place to reap the benefits. Users may also step off the path when the path is too difficult for them and continue to walk along beside the path.
The path features the embedded initials of Jenna K. Morrison, a light standard, a community mosaic wall, a handrail for assistance while walking, boulder accents, native sedge ground cover, upper evergreen ground cover and an asphalt walkway leading to the path. The path is designed to be walked in all directions depending on preference for use. A handrail is provided as support.
The path was designed in the shape of a number eight, the sign of infinity which was a significant symbol to Jenna Morrison.
Funding for the parks was provided by community fundraising and the City of Toronto.
The park is located in the central park area, by the main path of Dufferin Grove Park, 875 Dufferin St.
Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world's most livable cities. Toronto is proud to be the Host City for the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit www.toronto.ca, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us @TorontoComms.
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Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation media line, 416-560-8726, [email protected]
'Summer of the Tree'
By Mary Weins, CBC News
For urban forester Mark Mullins, 2014 is the Summer of the Tree.
With 169 new trees being planted along Bloor Street West, between Lansdowne and Bathurst, and another 200 trees about to go in on the Danforth, from Woodbine to Victoria Park, the two projects mark an overhaul of the city’s approach to planting boulevard trees.
For Mullin, it’s also a banner year personally — the culmination of years of planning to make it possible for boulevard trees to flourish in hard surfaces. A new design for planting pits means trees will live much longer than the trees that struggle to survive in the concrete tree boxes that still obstruct many of the city’s main streets.
Mullins began his career in the City’s Urban Forestry Department 30 years ago as a tree climber. Today, as supervisor of Special Services for the City of Toronto’s Urban Forestry department, his "final frontier" was to close what he calls the biggest gap in the city’s tree canopy — proper growing conditions for boulevard trees.
Trees planted on main streets face unique obstacles. They share sidewalk space with a host of utilities — from sewage and water mains to phone, internet and gas utilities.
The concrete tree boxes were part of an earlier strategy to separate tree roots from those services.
As well, trees on the city’s main avenues face suffer other hazards, from corrosive salt damage to exhaust from idling vehicles to the heat island effect on hot humid days. Boulevard trees have a much shorter life span than trees planted in residential neighbourhoods.
“Trees need water, soil and air,” says Mullins. The new tree pit design gives trees more of all three — more soil volume, inlets built into the sidewalk to channel rainwater to the roots and keep air circulating — all of which dictate the tree’s eventual size and age.
The sidewalks are constructed to prevent soil compaction on top of a continuous soil bed below, allowing tree roots to connect, creating a more hospitable habitat underneath the sidewalk surface.
Of all the improvements urban foresters have made over the years, Mullins figures that creating proper conditions for a tree to grow in a hard surface is the most significant.
The first extended project involving continuous soil trenches for boulevard trees was two years ago on Roncesvalles, which saw about 100 trees planted from Queen Street all the way up to Bloor. It was a collaborative triumph, involving a number of city departments — technical, transportation, public realm, and public water -- as well as numerous utilities.
The projects along Bloor West and the Danforth are even bigger, with a total of about 370 Silver Maples, disease-resistant Elms and Purple Robe Black Locusts — “the proven contenders”, says Mullins — planted by the end of the summer. Mullins points out that about 30 trees will be planted from Dawes Road to Victoria Park alone, a particularly barren stretch.
To speed up construction, the contractor will have two crews working six days a week. The crews will focus on two blocks at a time in a loop. Each block will take six days on average. (City Of Toronto)
On Bloor Street West, the tree planting is well underway and expected to be completed by the next month. Along Danforth, construction has just begun, with tree planting expected to be completed by the end of the summer.
For Mullins, the summer of 2014 also brought another breakthrough for urban forests — an economic tally of the value of trees by a couple of bank economists.
Beyond more nebulous social and environmental impacts, Toronto's lush canopy of trees are worth about $7 billion to the local economy, TD Bank suggests in a report released Monday.
"Urban forests do more than beautify the scenery," the bank's chief economist Craig Alexander said. "They represent an important investment in environmental condition, human health and the overall quality of life."
Mullins says he found the bankers’ economic analysis staggering, in spite of a career spent caring for the city’s trees.
“We were all talking about it at the office when it came out,” he says. “We were very excited - just the fact of an economist making a comment about trees.”
“Seven hundred dollars per tree! Even I didn’t know it was that much.”
Friends of McCormick Park look to Scadding Court’s shipping container model to bring healthy food to the community
The Friends of McCormick Park are taking a page out of the Scadding Court Community Centre’s ‘Business in a Box’ book to deliver a much-needed amenity in the 1.5 hectare park near Dufferin and Dundas West streets.
The McCormick Park Shipping Cafe Project will be an experiment in creating a not-for-profit, community-oriented food outlet and activity hub.
“Our McCormick Park Shipping Container Cafe will provide an accessible, open and flexible space to prepare and serve nutritious food for the community,” said Davenport Councillor Ana Bailao in a statement. “This is another example of Ward 18 residents and local organizations working with my office to make our neighbourhood a great place to live, work and play.”
Friends of McCormick Park have been trying for some time to figure out a way to serve food in the park, according to spokesperson Jennifer Cypher.
“We did a survey and that’s what people said they wanted,” she told The Villager.
There is a kitchen in the Mary McCormick Recreation Centre, however, commercial food cannot be prepared there because of a venting issue, Cypher said. The Friends looked into capitalizing on the snack bar at the McCormick arena, but its board wasn’t receptive to the idea.
A few months ago, Bailao approached the group about Scadding Court’s community engagement economic development project that it initiated four years ago.
“We’ve taken shipping containers and modified them into market stalls,” said Kevin Lee, executive director. “We have 17 businesses operating out of shipping containers.”
These businesses at Dundas West and Bathurst streets include retail, food, an inorganic market and many more.
“We rent them out for $11 to $24 a day so people are able to start a business. To try to rent something in Toronto is really expensive. That’s why we set this up,” Lee said.
Scadding Court also hosts community events at its market place, like TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Talks and movie screenings. It is because of Scadding Court’s success with its market place that the councillor approached Lee to share his expertise. Earlier this month, Lee was instrumental in helping Friends set up a shipping container at McCormick Park to showcase the potential for a shipping container cafe during Bailao’s free compost day.
“We’ve had a number of meetings with Ana Bailao and the Friends of McCormick Park,” Lee said. “We’re looking at installation for September in time for a harvest festival.”
Community members are intrigued, said Cypher, who has lived near the park for the past 10 years and has been a part of Friends of McCormick since its inception in early 2012.
“It has a lot of support,” she said.
The launch of the pilot project will coincide with the completion of the park playground’s retrofit. Construction is set to begin soon. Its footprint is expanding both east and west. There will be a new water-sand play area and a climber for older kids as well as an accessible swing and other accessible play options. Low-impact sport equipment, such as a pull up bar, will be incorporated for adults. A free library, near Brock Avenue, is set to open anytime.
As for the shipping cafe, it will take a number of months to get a sense of what its hours will be and who its customers are, Cypher said.
“We are trying to get local entrepreneurs from marginalized communities involved,” she said. “Like Scadding Court, we’re trying to make this a social enterprise.”
For further details, visit mccormickpark.ca
Innovative 'community-focused' project will activate local park
The McCormick Park Shipping Cafe Project will be an experiment in creating a not-for-profit community-oriented food outlet and activity hub.
Councillor Ana Bailão, the Friends of McCormick Park, the Scadding Court Community Centre, City of Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation, Aangen Community Centre and Working Women Community Centre are collaborating on an innovative pilot project that has immense potential to benefit the McCormick Park/Brockton Triangle neighbourhood. This could soon see similar shipping container cafés in parks throughout Toronto.
Showcase Date: Tuesday, June 3rd
Location: Mary McCormick Park, 66 Sheridan Ave (one block west of Dufferin, between Queen and Dundas)
This project, to be implemented later this summer, builds from the successful Market 707 project at Scadding Court Community Centre and will be customized to suit the neighbourhood’s needs of the McCormick area. On June 3rd, a 10' shipping container will be showcased and food will be served in addition to free compost that members of the community can pick-up for their gardens.
“The Friends of McCormick Park are very excited about the potential for this project to offer food for families in the park at an affordable price point. This experiment was generated by the master plan that our group created to guide future improvements in the park and we look forward to seeing this alongside our newly improved playground at the end of this summer.” - Jen Cypher, Friends of McCormick Park
“Our McCormick Park Shipping Container Cafe will provide an accessible, open and flexible space to prepare and serve nutritious food for the community. This is another example of Ward 18 residents and local organizations working with my office to make our neighbourhood a great place to live, work and play. “ - Councillor Ana Bailão
"Through our experience with our shipping container market, Market 707, Scadding Court Community Centre has witnessed how these structures can foster a strong and vibrant community that provides real opportunities for small businesses and public space for community building. Through the simple re-purposing of shipping containers, we have seen our community thrive by providing positive space for economic and social growth. We look forward to continuing to support Councillor Bailao and the McCormick Park community in defining how their own container-based community can flourish and meet the needs of local residents." - Kevin Lee, Executive Director, Scadding Court Community Centre
“We are thankful to the friends of McCormcik Park and Councillor Ana Baliao for putting together this shipping container pilot program where we can bring fresh food and products to the McCormick Park community. Aangen Community Centre is a Toronto-based, self-sustaining volunteer-run not for profit organization. We work with local farmers to bring fresh farm products to our neighbourhood and local cafes, 40% of our net proceeds go back into running our outreach initiatives where we help families in need. ” - Gurbeen Bhasin, Executive Director, Aangen Community Centre
“Working Women Community Centre is proud to embark in this journey that will bring people together. We are committed to providing opportunities for newcomers and immigrants to become more involved in their neighbourhoods and communities, and build on their existing skills, assets and ideas to develop their leadership skills. As communities change a grow our centre works closely to ensure that our holistic approach to community engagement foster new opportunities for residents and users of the McCormick park.” - Marcie Ponte, Executive Director, Working Women Community Centre
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Nicholas Gallant, Special Assistant to Councillor Ana Bailão 416-338-5275, [email protected]
Effie Vlachoyannacos, Manager of Development and Community Engagement, Scadding Court Community Centre, 416-392-0335, [email protected]
A proposal to make Bloor Street pedestrian-only for four days this summer will be up for debate by the city’s economic committee on Wednesday.
If approved, it will go before city council in May.
Mayor Rob Ford has already said he is against the proposal, which is being championed by Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam. Coun. Ana Bailao is also backing the proposal.
However, neither Wong-Tam nor Bailao are on the executive committee. Ford is, though he is no longer the chair.
Open Streets TO would see 11 kilometres of roadway shut down for four Sundays in a row starting July 27 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
If the proposal goes through, Bloor Street would be closed from High Park to Withrow Park at Carlaw Street as well as both Yonge Street and Church Street from Bloor Street south to Queen Street. See a map of the proposed route. Major intersections would experience a “soft close,” which would allow north-south traffic to pass through.
A similar idea takes place over the summer in Kensington Market where streets are shut down to vehicle traffic from noon to 7 p.m. for pedestrian Sundays, which happens every last Sunday, from May until and including October.
The Open Streets initiative have been successful in such major cities as San Francisco, Portland and New York City.
Story originally posted on CityNews Toronto by Erin Criger