I know parks in this city don't get a lot of use between October and April, but why not at least make an attempt to draw people in - skating rink/trail (OK, maybe this park's too small for that ), fire pits with a cafe/bakery close by, etc.? Especially for such a high-profile, centrally located park funded (partially?) by developers such as this.
Thanks for the thoughtful response. This park is/was the ideal location for your last suggestion - adjacent to a condo with ground-level commercial space big enough for a patio. Instead they leased that space to a virtual reality operator that (out of necessity) blocked out all the windows and doors that could have provided access to/from the park.There are certainly things we can do to animate parks in winter a bit more.
That said, it's important to note that there are over 1,700 parks in Toronto. Many are quite small, of course, but there are dozens of multi-acre parks as well.
You absolutely, can't amenitize every park for every activity or season, even in a much higher-tax regime that would be neither affordable, nor practical.
On the subject of fire pits, I'm quite fond of them; but the City has an allergy to them and has actually removed many over the years. There are fewer now than 20 years ago.
Again, there are reasons for this:
1) Fear of people not knowing now how to safely start, or manage a fire.
2) To put a fire out, you need water, at a decent volume, where that's coming from? You need a hose or a spigot of some description. Now, you just created a risk of flooding and icy pathways/surfaces from the water.
3) Firewood. The City does not want people scavenging for woody debris (which is necessary to nature for nutrients and habitat), or worse, damaging a living tree to get wood. There is also a concern over a firewood source from elsewhere possibly bringing pests/diseases.
4) The City addresses the above, by having you get a permit for a fire, which you must pay for, which they will take time to process, before they deliver you the firewood. Note the lack of room for any spontaneity
Suppose we avoided all that by having some form of gas-fed flame. You still have safety issues should it throw off any heat. Is there an emergency shut down in the event of any kind of leak? What about wasting all that energy which contributes to climate change?
None of which is to say you can't do this; I am pro-fire pit. But the solutions aren't necessarily easy and will definitely never apply to every park.
For skating, the City already has a very large number of rinks, a bigger issue, I would argue is that many are under-used, because there is nowhere to rent skates, no skating lessons, no warm change room to put your skates on or take them off;
and no washrooms either.
If I were to look at ways to animate Toronto's Parks in winter, I would look at a few low-hanging fruit choices first:
1) All Parks Washrooms should be insulated, heated and operate year-round
2) All larger/higher-volume parks and all those with a large number of sports amenities should feature washrooms.
3) All Parks outdoor skating rinks should feature an indoor, heated space for changing.
4) More Parks Skating rinks should feature skate rental (it's unrealistic for this to be at every rink); but perhaps a dozen equitably distributed rinks across the City.
5) A simple snackbar, focusing on warm beverages should be in place at any skating rink which has skate rental, and any rink with sufficient volume to justify opening one.
6) Parks with winter-specific amenities should generally feature a snow-melt system, ice-free trail to said amenities (exception for valley/natural area parks)
7) Parks with high volumes of winter uses should have at least one ice-free path through the park and to key amenities.
8) Parks with larger, open-style fire pits should feature water to put out a fire, at least seasonally, if not year round, instead of permits, firewood should be stored in a locked caged area near the fire pit, and it could be opened with your Recreation Fob.
9) Parks should introduce smaller fire pits, that are more contained which require less fuel and pose less risk.
10) Parks should consider enclosed glass fire boxes and/or electric versions, which could be activated by pushing a button and would stay on for 10-15 minutes at a time.
11) Parks should fill-in some areas with additional rinks where they are uniquely deprived of that amenity.
12) Ravine Parks could see a couple of trails marked for cross-country skiing.
13) Planting trees/shrubs and groundcovers with an eye to 4-season visual interest (additional evergreens, red dogwood and grasses than stand up in golden and brown hues through much of the winter).
I think using the private sector on adjacent properties to provide concessions via take-out windows or a modest patio with some seasonal heating is a fine idea; though in most cases, this needs to be purposefully designed and I would oppose it if it ate into scarce park space.
Thanks for the thoughtful response. This park is/was the ideal location for your last suggestion - adjacent to a condo with ground-level commercial space big enough for a patio. Instead they leased that space to a virtual reality operator that (out of necessity) blocked out all the windows and doors that could have provided access to/from the park.
Hey, I was a younger attendee too! Didn't feel awkward tho, kind of expected given the time of day.I attended the opening ceremony, and it was very nice. I was one of the only random people to show to it however, and one of the youngest there, so it felt very awkward.
Regardless, I'm glad to see Lillian McGregor honoured here (I do not recall the middle name).
Aside from a few gripes about its design, it's a great space, and has potential.