Designing a New Park for Harbord Village

On July 12, Councillor Joe Cressy and HVRA hosted a community meeting to discuss the next phase of our Green Master Plan and to envision a new public park at the north end of 666 Spadina, flanking Sussex.

The Harbord Village Green Plan identifies opportunities to create new green spaces. Construction of the first phase, which includes in-street planters at four Harbord Village intersections, is set to begin next month. Participants agreed unanimously that Harbord was the most appropriate street for creating the next phase of green flanking spaces.

Another exciting greening improvement coming to Harbord Village is the new public park at 666 Spadina. For this site, the community was asked for broad principles of what we want to see there, before moving to the formal design process later in the year. Participants expressed a variety of opinions on what the neighbourhood might welcome, and more meetings will follow.

Sue Dexter’s sense of excitement about this park was shared by the participants: “This park will be a gateway to our community. Let’s create something special and visionary that expresses the spirit of Harbord Village!”

Residents were interested in having a list of park treatments from Toronto and other places that could stimulate thinking for future discussions. The list below (with links to relevant webpages) is by no means exhaustive, but suggests a variety of treatments which might stir our imaginations. It includes a number of new and successful small parks near our area. For more ideas, Google “parkette” or “pocket park” and travel the world of creative spaces!

EXAMPLES:

  1. The Mirvish Village Task Force, which includes a HVRA representative, is also working to envision plans for a small park in the new development at Bathurst and Bloor. Ahead of a recent community meeting, the group wrote to City representatives and the developer outlining their vision for that park. Their letter (available here) mentions the “sanctuary” aspects of Green Acre Park and Paley Park in New York City, which both include waterfalls. It lists other desirable elements, such as a combination of paved permeable surface with plantings and large trees to provide dappled shade, a variety of seating areas, a metal screen with trees along one building wall, and no provision for amplified sound or concerts.
  2. A recent New York Times story discusses the success of pedestrian plazas, which provide oases of calm and shade on city streets. The story includes photos of several examples.
  3. Nearer home, Bellevue Square Park in Kensington Market re-opened last week after lengthy reconstruction. It’s an attractive combination of green space with trees and a children’s playground with a splash pad. The official opening will be July 28, 12-2pm. Enjoy the photos in a BlogTO article, and visit any time.
  4. The Annex has two notable pocket parks: Jean Sibelius Square, 50 Kendal Ave. and Taddle Creek Park, 40 Bedford Rd.
  5. Berczy Park (the triangle between Wellington, Front and Scott Streets) provides space for both dogs and people. The architect’s plans are still online.
  6. Toronto Grange park (between Beverley and McCaul south of the AGO) is a larger urban park that combines a wide range of uses. See this article in Urban Toronto.
  7. For inventive ideas for small urban spaces, have a look online at the ten finalists’ designs in a design competition for York and Rees Parks, both in the waterfront area east of Spadina. Designs are also on display at Toronto City Hall, and input from the public is welcome.
  8. Councillor Cressy’s July Newsletter mentions many new parks and plans for park redesign in Ward 20, including Alexandra Park (Bathurst and Dundas), Glasgow Street Parkette (north of Cecil St., east of Spadina), and Kensington School playground (south side of College at Lippincott).
  9. Sue Dexter suggests other interesting local parks to visit in person or online: Barbara Hall Park, north of 519 Church; Courthouse Square, northwest of King and Church on Court Street; Cloud Gardens, south of Richmond, between Bay and Yonge; the 18-acre Corktown Common on reclaimed industrial land at the foot of Lower River and Front; smaller parkettes near Cherry and Front; Lee Liefson Art Park with the Paul Raff Bandshell, in north Toronto; and 223 Gladys Allison Place, North York. Also notable is Town Square Park, 18 Yorkville: very formal, designed by J. Rosenberg, as was the Courthouse Square, with artists Susan Schelle and Mark Gomes. (Search online by park name to find more information.)