Toronto Parks

Discussion in 'Buildings, Architecture & Urban Design' started by dt_toronto_geek, May 4, 2009.

  1. dt_toronto_geek

    dt_toronto_geek Superstar

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    Toronto Parks - Downtown area

    I hope I'm posting under the appropriate heading.

    There's been some debate about the state of Toronto parks in various threads, sometimes running off topic. More to the point, the condition of our parks such as Grange Park, the parkettes east of Yonge, south of Charles St., Alexander Street Parkette, Allan Gardens, Metro Hall Park etc. I thought it might be interesting to get some views on our parks going here and to consolidate it into one thread.

    There has been some discussion on the state of the parkettes east of Yonge which really got into my claw so I documented these three areas on Saturday April 25th. Keep in mind trees were just beginning to bud, flowers were only beginning to emerge and grass was still a little ratty at the time so these photos are not a true representation of what they look like by early to mid-May.

    I know there can be a few homeless folks in any park, including the above mentioned areas (big deal). Being a dog owner and taking long walks most days there's rarely a day that I don't hit a park within an hour's walk from where I live. I'm quite observant and I see what happens in the parks by day, and by night and I think some of our parks are getting a bad rap by a few people. I don't think they are poorly maintained (although there could always be improvement) and I don't see them as unsafe. I've had a few uncomfortable moments at Allen Gardens by day (aggressive panhandlers/verbally assaulted), but that was several years ago so I'll be spending some time there in the months to come to take it in.

    I photographed the three above mentioned parks to start with as they have come under a fair amount of criticism recently in terms of large numbers of homeless/drug users and poor maintenance - neither of which I agree with. However maintenance can certainly be in the eyes of the beholder.

    For those unfamiliar with this area, these parkettes were parking lots until about 10 years ago.

    More park photos to follow soon. Let's discuss!

    ***

    Click on the thumbnail to enlarge, then click again on the image for full size.

    George Hislop Park, between Charles & Isabella Sts., aside Casa

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    Norman Jewison Park, between between Isabella & Gloucester Sts.

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    James Canning Park, Gloucester & Dundonald Sts.

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    Last edited: May 29, 2009
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  2. TrickyRicky

    TrickyRicky Senior Member

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    The upkeep and usage of parks in the downtown has been steadily improving in my experience over the last few years. That said, we are starting from a fairly low base-line in my opinion.

    I was struck the other week for instance how Trinity-Bellwoods could almost be described as "crowded" on a given sunny spring weekend day at the south end near the recently refurbished Queen Street Gates. A fairly recent development in the ten years i've lived in this city. I also believe that many of the west-end parks are Dufferin-Groving, that is changing incrementally under the direction of interested local community groups. So the direction is positive if incremental and lacking capital investments that could unlock more of their potential.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2009
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  3. Hipster Duck

    Hipster Duck Senior Member

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    I agree with Tricky: parks are improving, but they're starting off from a very low level. Actually, the quality of parks is pretty inconsistent. Some are immaculate, like Kew Gardens, while others suffer from very obvious neglect (Clarence Square). Many are well used, but have outdated facilities and are aging badly, like Alexandra Park.

    I don't think there are many areas where Toronto could learn from New York, but parks services is certainly one of them. Even in the poorest parts of Brooklyn, parks have chess tables, tennis courts, tasteful benches, granite paving and a terrific maintenance record.
     
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  4. walli

    walli Active Member

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    From what I understand, the public park planned within the Aga Khan site at DVP and Eglinton should be something unique within the Toronto context, and should also be international in calibre. The space for the park, which itself will be a mosaic of different gardents, is being created by putting the parking for the new museum (Fumihiko Maki) and Ismaili centre (Charles Correa) underground. The park is being designed by award winning garden architect Vladimir Djurovic. Here is how Canadian Architect describes it:

    excerpt:
    Including Eastern-influenced formal gardens and over two kilometres of walking trails open to the public, Wynford Park will contain five reflecting pools, enclosed gardens and waterfalls. Visitors will be shielded from the noisy DVP and Eglinton Avenue traffic with numerous places for contemplation. Along the southern edge of the site, the development group is in the process of discussing with the City of Toronto as to how best manage the City-owned property abutting the site. In return for relocating some of the existing fencing along the property line, the AKDN will maintain the adjacent City property, as well as upgrade its plantings and grading. Both the selection of plant material and safety concerns regarding public access to the site during non-daylight hours and the winter season are currently being discussed with the City to ensure that issues of maintenance and safety are properly addressed. Even a nearly inaccessible traffic island will be upgraded and maintained so that the impact of Wynford Park's landscape can extend as far into the community as possible.

    Following are a couple of related articles:

    Vladimir Djurovic's firm's page:
    http://www.vladimirdjurovic.com/

    Vladimir Djurovic's page on world architects:
    http://www.world-architects.com/ind...schaftsarchitekten_detail_en&system_id=153547

    Nature and Nurture - Interior Design Magazine talks to Vladimir Djurovic:
    http://www.interiordesign.net/article/CA6355730.html

    Story about the project on Canadian Architect (quoted above):
    http://www.cdnarchitect.com/issues/...ory_id=159010084929&issue=03012008&PC=&RType=
     
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  5. shilly

    shilly Active Member

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    It would be nice to get some context from outside downtown. Specifically the east end. The media and this discussion doesn't include it. You didn't even go past Church. I guess Riverdale Park, Kew Gardens, Greenwood Park, Jimmie Simpson etc don't count because it's not nearby? I would have to say these parks are kept in great shape and if it weren't for the dog owners literally all these parks would be packed on a sunny weekend afternoon.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2009
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  6. lead82

    lead82 Active Member

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    Toronto's parks are in a very poor state or repair. Even the gems such as High Park are showing age. The paths could use a repaving, the flower-beds could use some more flowers. The parks need more benches as well. Many large parks have lots of trails, but very few benches. The benches that are in parks are either broken or ugly. Anyone who has been to Europe or visited New York City knows the classy looking benches in city parks.

    We have lots of work to do. In general, Toronto does an awful job of maintenance. Case in point: New trees planted last fall in North York (along Yonge, and along Finch), are dead now. Does anyone in the city actually follow up with what was recently planted or do spot checks to see it's it's still alive? It's sad to see trees planted only to have them die in less than a year. It doesn't help Toronto's urban forest renewal strategy.
     
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  7. GraphicMatt

    GraphicMatt Looking forward to a FRESH START for Toronto

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    I'm really looking forward to this photo series continuing - the downtown parks have a ton of untapped potential. The City has done a good job with the concrete public spaces like NPS and Dundas Square, but it'd be nice to see downtown green spaces get similar levels of care and attention.

    I'm wondering: how are the city's parks funded? Do they allow people or organizations to donate money for the upkeep of parks? I wouldn't want to see Allen Gardens rebranded as SCOTIABANK Gardens or anything, but a direct donation system (similar to museums and galleries) might let people feel more ownership over their local parks.
     
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  8. dt_toronto_geek

    dt_toronto_geek Superstar

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    In the coming weeks or months I'll only be documenting parks in and around my nabe for discussion/debate. If your in the east end (or elsewhere) please feel free to photograph and post the good, the bad & the ugly
     
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  9. Archivist

    Archivist Senior Member

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    This is a good thread. I myself do not find Toronto's parks that much worse than anywhere else, really, though of course there is room for improvement. When I was in Paris, about a year ago, the Place de la Republique had a permanent tent city in it, was filthy, and smelled heavily of urine and worse. Yes, the parks around the Eiffel Tower were immaculate, but overall the situation was quite mixed.

    I also recall being in Rotterdam and having a long, smelly walk along the Westersingel, which was unpleasant and dirty and which I avoided afterwards. The Het Park was lovely, but unkempt in places.

    I am not convinced that, if you consider the city as a whole, that our parks are especially worse than many other cities. If I were to point to a place where the condition of parks is taken seriously, it would probably be Vancouver where the Parks Board is very powerful and very well funded. They would certainly be a model to emulate.
     
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  10. walli

    walli Active Member

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    Here are some images and details of the main park in Cairo:
    http://www.alazharpark.com/
     
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  11. walli

    walli Active Member

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    The entire book "The Aga Khan Museum, Toronto" has been uploaded to MIT's Archnet and is available for free download.

    Jodidio, Philip. 2008. The Aga Khan Museum, Toronto. Munich: Prestel.
    http://archnet.org/library/pubdownloader/pdf/10641/doc/DPC1954.pdf

    The preface, introduction and architecture sections are interesting, particularly as you get to read insights of an internationally renowned architect regarding a building coming up in Canada. The images are much better than what we've seen to date outside of the book - the various vantages of the gardens highlight the diversity in the public park. The theatre will be very cool.

    There is an entire chapter on the park / gardens, however, renderings can be found throughout.

     
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  12. dt_toronto_geek

    dt_toronto_geek Superstar

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    Toronto's Beautiful Parks Continued

    I've not had the time to upload photos that I have been shooting for the past couple of weeks but will continue this thread in the next day or two for sure.

    I hope the upcoming photo series can stimulate some discussion, and recognition that for the most part, our City parks are pretty damn good.

    Don't miss lxmoss's photos of St. Lawrence Market parks:
    http://www.urbantoronto.ca/showthread.php?t=9183
     
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  13. dt_toronto_geek

    dt_toronto_geek Superstar

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    Asquith Park - May 13, 2009

    A parkette located between Church & Asquith, north of Bloor Street

    Click on the thumbnail to enlarge, then click again on the image for full size.

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  14. dt_toronto_geek

    dt_toronto_geek Superstar

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    Alexander Street Parkette - May 10, 2009

    A popular and well used neighbourhood park by day, and by night on Alexander Street east of Yonge

    Click on the thumbnail to enlarge, then click again on the image for full size.

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  15. Northern Light

    Northern Light Active Member

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    Parks Maintenance

    Overall, I think Toronto's parks are well maintained; though there are glowing exceptions.

    In general terms, the 'operating' maintenance budget for the City's parks has gone up in the last 3-4 years, this is the part of the budget that covers mowing lawns, changing garbage cans and minor repairs.

    However, their is still a large 'capital' deficit/backlog of mid-range and major repairs and/or improvements to parks.

    I don't recall the exact figure, though its posted on the City's website, its just over $200,000,000 if I recall.

    So what you should be seeing are more and better flowers displays, the lawn cut regularly, good litter clean-up etc.

    But many older benches need replacing, many lighting standards the same, and many park paths the same; while some facilities were just never that elaborate, and need a better playground or sports field etc.

    *****

    In terms of specific parks:

    Clarence Square is getting a facelift, next year, so is Grange Park.

    The latter will also get alot of TLC under a new deal with AGO who will subsidize the new level of attention this park will get.

    Queen's Park has an overhaul plan in place, as does Allan Gardens, but neither are full funded to my knowledge.

    In the east end, pump house is getting a big facelift soon (that's the one across from the sewage plant), a facelift is being contemplated for Withrow Park as well.

    ****

    Parks that really need some help, I can't even think of the names....there's one on Humewood, north of Carlton; and another on Ontario, just north of Shuter that doesn't even show up on google, but you can see it on 'satellite' view.
     
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