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Problematic Park Design - Why Some Parks Don't Work

Northern Light

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Time to revive this thread.............As I walked today, I saw a couple of things, in different parks that merited public discussion and/or derision.

Photos were taken, May 19, 2021:

Lets start here, PF&R saw fit to create a prominent new entrance to Jimmy Simpson Park. Seems like a swell idea, those familiar w/this thread will know I value a clear, well executed entrance.....but.....

1621467448828.png


1) Where does this lead to? The trail literally dead ends..........except of course it doesn't, people having been instructed to enter the park here do so, creating a 'desire line' or two or three......destroying the grass and leading to a lot of mud when it rains.

2) Why is there seating directly in front of the park sign? I mean, due to placement , and the extraordinary height of the sign, some people having a seat shouldn't obstruct the view of the sign.......but its really odd. It would look much better if the plants were in front of the sign, and the seating here off to the side...

3) The placement of that bench off to the side of the trail to nowhere also rates as weird.

****

Next.........is this what PF&R is trying to call a flower bed these days? Uhhhh........just NO.

1621467835449.png


If they don't want to maintain the bed here, they should pull it and just sod the space.

Or they could easily do a bed of low-maintenance perennials; but that just looks terrible.

*****

Now onto another park entrance. They just re-did Sackville Park on King Street East in the last year or so. Overall, I think it turned out quite well, and the park was very much alive with children playing, adults talking or taking a rest, as I was mid-walk.

But..............I've mentioned before, its terribly important to either faciliate people walking the way they wish to; or you have to prevent it.............either make a path, or make a border/fence/barrier/seatwall etc.

Because if you don't.........this happens to the planting bed at your park entrance:

1621468078166.png


Completely trampled by people cutting the corner.

***

Also, for some reason, they didn't address this space in the re-do:

1621468154834.png


It doesn't need anything fancy; just a rotor till away from the tree roots..........lay down a lot of fresh mulch.............and plant a nice ground cover, something like Virginia Waterleaf

That would be fine, quite cheap too.

That's this plant here: (also a native)

1621468340407.png

from: https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/udata/r9ndp23q/pd/hydrophyllum-virginianum-8793-1.jpg
 
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DSC

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Something that I've been long thinking about and perhaps someone has an answer: Does the city allocate more money/maintenance towards parks in wealthier neighbourhoods? I'm thinking of parks in tony areas such as Alexander Muir Memorial Gardens, Ramsden Park, Craigleigh Gardens...etc.
I suspect the fact that 'friends groups' are more likely to be created in wealthier areas probably has much more to do with better maintenance and planting.
 

fiendishlibrarian

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Time to revive this thread.............As I walked today, I saw a couple of things, in different parks that merited public discussion and/or derision.

Photos were taken, May 19, 2021:

Lets start here, PF&R saw fit to create a prominent new entrance to Jimmy Simpson Park. Seems like a swell idea, those familiar w/this thread will know I value a clear, well executed entrance.....but.....

View attachment 321009

1) Where does this lead to? The trail literally dead ends..........except of course it doesn't, people having been instructed to enter the park here do so, creating a 'desire line' or two or three......destroying the grass and leading to a lot of mud when it rains.

2) Why is there seating directly in front of the park sign? I mean, due to placement , and the extraordinary height of the sign, some people having a seat shouldn't obstruct the view of the sign.......but its really odd. It would look much better if the plants were in front of the sign, and the seating here off to the side...

3) The placement of that bench off to the side of the trail to nowhere also rates as weird.

****

Next.........is this what PF&R is trying to call a flower bed these days? Uhhhh........just NO.

View attachment 321015

If they don't want to maintain the bed here, they should pull it and just sod the space.

Or they could easily do a bed of low-maintenance perennials; but that just looks terrible.

*****

Now onto another park entrance. They just re-did Sackville Park on King Street East in the last year or so. Overall, I think it turned out quite well, and the park was very much alive with children playing, adults talking or taking a rest, as I was mid-walk.

But..............I've mentioned before, its terribly important to either faciliate people walking the way they wish to; or you have to prevent it.............either make a path, or make a border/fence/barrier/seatwall etc.

Because if you don't.........this happens to the planting bed at your park entrance:

View attachment 321016

Completely trampled by people cutting the corner.

***

Also, for some reason, they didn't address this space in the re-do:

View attachment 321017

It doesn't need anything fancy; just a rotor till away from the tree roots..........lay down a lot of fresh mulch.............and plant a nice ground cover, something like Virginia Waterleaf

That would be fine, quite cheap too.

That's this plant here: (also a native)

View attachment 321020
from: https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/udata/r9ndp23q/pd/hydrophyllum-virginianum-8793-1.jpg

I have never understood this city's phobia against well-crafted, attractive yet functional 2-3ft high fences bordering parks that would address the trampling and related issues mentioned above. I mean, how difficult would it be to install something like this at key pathways and entrances, as in Central Park:

1621517121497.png

Source
 

Northern Light

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Something that I've been long thinking about and perhaps someone has an answer: Does the city allocate more money/maintenance towards parks in wealthier neighbourhoods? I'm thinking of parks in tony areas such as Alexander Muir Memorial Gardens, Ramsden Park, Craigleigh Gardens...etc.

Is that official policy? No.

Does it happen to some degree; yes.

I suspect the fact that 'friends groups' are more likely to be created in wealthier areas probably has much more to do with better maintenance and planting.

This is one difference.

There are others.

****

1) On planting beds, there is a general level of horticultural maintenance. This is done by the gardeners in Parks.

Planting beds get similar but not identical levels of maintenance. (ie. beds with annuals, and 3-season displays, automatically get no less attention than 6 times per year as plants are put in for each season and changed out.)

While perennial beds will tend to get less attention.

2) Formal gardens like Rosetta McClain in Scarborough have full-time gardeners just for that park; the planting beds are also irrigated which is uncommon in most parks.

3) General maintenance is also impacted by whether a park is deemed high-usage (parks that get extra cleaning, which means extra staff looking at everything in the park)

4) By and large, Parks that have full-time operations staff on-site are better maintained.

5) As with the Friends groups noted above; squeaky wheels tend to get greased, and people in upper-middle income and high income areas are more likely to phone their Councillor, Parks or the Mayor demanding better than those in more moderate income locales.

Though, the area around Jimmy Simpson can hardly be described as low-income (South Riverdale)

*****

I have not confirmed this with anyone; but what it looks like to me is that those beds were simply removed from the list the gardeners have for maintenance; either on purpose, or by accident.

Tulips are perennial, which explains their presence even without maintenance.

Normally, if Parks chooses to de-commission a flower bed it removes it outright and sods.

That clearly didn't happen here.
 
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Northern Light

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I have never understood this city's phobia against well-crafted, attractive yet functional 2-3ft high fences bordering parks that would address the trampling and related issues mentioned above. I mean, how difficult would it be to install something like this at key pathways and entrances, as in Central Park:

View attachment 321169
Source

That's lovely; and an option.

Though, something lower height (and slightly cheaper) can work too.

See this new Cormier designed park at the 88 Queen site:

1621518212540.png

Credit @brianyyz from the applicable thread.


Notice how there is not only a protection of the planting bed, but a clear path to where you can appreciate it w/o damaging it, and take a slight shortcut by using said path.

Also notice the irrigation, which will help the bed stay healthy.
 
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old boy

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That's lovely; and an option.

Though, something lower height (and slightly cheaper) can work too.

See the his new Cormier designed park at the 88 Queen site:

View attachment 321171
Credit @brianyyz from the applicable thread.


Notice how there is not only a protection of the planting bed, but a clear path to where you can appreciate it w/o damaging it, and take a slight shortcut by using said path.

Also notice the irrigation, which will help the bed stay healthy.
Great reporting and analysis as usual, Northern Light. Sadly, It seems the bar has been set low for some neglected " parks " in this city . It's time for a review of the standards and policy for all public spaces with the same caring eye.
 

Northern Light

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Sooo, as people have requested that I throw positive examples of design in this thread from time to time; this will be such a post.

It mostly looks at Corktown Common, but will also briefly touch on Sherbourne Common South and Sugar Beach.

Photos taken May 23rd, 2021:

Corktown Common:

We begin with a wetland by the northerly entry at Bayview Avenue.

1621978280518.png


It looks lovely.............we head in to the park and arrive at a staircase..........and this made me happy:

1621978383307.png


The pink flowers alongside the stairs are native, they are Wild Geranium. Notice also that there are native ferns mixed in as well, and nary a patch of bare ground to be seen.

At the top of the stairs we pass through a young forest.


1621978508844.png


Its so healthy and lush and almost entirely good stuff!

Including these little white flowers, another native, Canada Anemone:

1621978577621.png


We come back down another set of stairs, which look like this:

1621978629584.png


We're now on the south side of that wetland we saw as we came in:

1621978674794.png


Notice how there is a an opportunity to responsibly engage with the space, walking across it and within it, while causing minimal disturbance.

1621978734861.png


The natural areas had some traffic w/o being overly busy, in what was perhaps a 200m short walk, I passed 2 dog walkers, one solo walker and one mother and child............so not crowded, but certainly well used.

But as we move to exit the park, we encounter a mowed space that invited picnics and sunbathers and informal play............

And look at that............people using it, as intended!:

1621978848103.png


That of course, isn't the whole park, only the portion I took in on Sunday's walk.......but that part at least, is aging very well indeed.

****

A single pic at Sherbourne Common South tells the story:

1621979097943.png


While I do believe this park's relationship to Queen's Quay East could be improved upon.....overall, its a very popular place.

****

Finally, on to Sugar Beach:

1621979173764.png


1621979193189.png


Just oodles of people out enjoying themselves, in the sun, and in the shade, chatting, sunbathing, taking a respite on a bike ride, or watching the ships sail by........

Tip of the Hat to Mr. Cormier for this space.........and in respect of Corktown Common to Michael Van Valkenburgh both consistently exhibit a deft touch; mixing novelty with simplicity; ensuring ease-of-use; and quality materials
and execution.

****

This thread will shortly return to its usual state of eviscerating bad design. LOL
 
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AlvinofDiaspar

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Sooo, as people have requested that I throw positive examples of design in this thread from time to time; this will be such a post.

It mostly looks at Corktown Common, but will also briefly touch on Sherbourne Common South and Sugar Beach.

Photos taken May 23rd, 2021:

Corktown Common:

We begin with a wetland by the northerly entry at Bayview Avenue.

View attachment 322591

It looks lovely.............we head in to the park and arrive at a staircase..........and this made me happy:

View attachment 322595

The pink flowers alongside the stairs are native, they are Wild Geranium. Notice also that there are native ferns mixed in as well, and nary a patch of bare ground to be seen.

At the top of the stairs we pass through a young forest.


View attachment 322599

Its so healthy and lush and almost entirely good stuff!

Including these little white flowers, another native, Canada Anemone:

View attachment 322602

We come back down another set of stairs, which look like this:

View attachment 322604

We're now on the south side of that wetland we saw as we came in:

View attachment 322606

Notice how there is a an opportunity to responsibly engage with the space, walking across it and within it, while causing minimal disturbance.

View attachment 322608

The natural areas had some traffic w/o being overly busy, in what was perhaps a 200m short walk, I passed 2 dog walkers, one solo walker and one mother and child............so not crowded, but certainly well used.

But as move to exit the park, we encounter a mowed space that invited picnics and sunbathers and informal play............

And look at that............people using it, as intended!:

View attachment 322610

That of course, isn't the whole park, only the portion I took in on Sunday's walk.......but that part at least, is aging very well indeed.

****

A single pic at Sherbourne Common South tells the story:

View attachment 322616

Wile I do believe this park's relationship to Queen's Quay East could be improved upon.....overall, its a very popular place.

****

Finally, on to Sugar Beach:

View attachment 322620

View attachment 322621

Just oodles of people out enjoying themselves, in the sun, and in the shade, chatting, sunbathing, taking a respite on a bike ride, or watching the ships sail by........

Tip of the Hat to Mr. Cormier for this space.........and in respect of Corktown Common to Michael Van Valkenburgh both consistently exhibit a deft touch; mixing novelty with simplicity; ensuring ease-of-use; and quality materials
and execution.

****

This thread will shortly return to its usual state of eviscerating bad design. LOL

MVVA is almost Olmsteadian; PFS is strong on artificial, diagrammatical landscape and Claude Cormier is great at intensely urban sites and a master at hardscape. We are so lucky to have them all.

AoD
 

Northern Light

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MVVA is almost Olmsteadian; PFS is strong on artificial, diagrammatical landscape and Claude Cormier is great at intensely urban sites and a master at hardscape. We are so lucky to have them all.

AoD

Regrettably, we also have gh3 which helped give us 2 of the parks in this thread whose design I have eviscerated.

June Callwood and Wellesley-McGill. (the latter also involved the late Ms. Oberlander whose involvement here I find difficult to fathom given the design fail of the space)
 

toast_and_tea

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See this new Cormier designed park at the 88 Queen site:

View attachment 321171
Credit @brianyyz from the applicable thread.


Notice how there is not only a protection of the planting bed, but a clear path to where you can appreciate it w/o damaging it, and take a slight shortcut by using said path.

Also notice the irrigation, which will help the bed stay healthy.

Happy to see the planting has gone in! Slightly off-topic, but does anyone know if the water feature is still going to be built? Is that blue and yellow wall mural temporary?
 

mjl08

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