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evandyk

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We went to the St. Andrew park at Brant and Adelaide today, and that is a very well-used park. The playground is really well thought out, even if it's small, it has towering trees, and the number of people out walking their dogs was insane (the toddler got to pet a few, and was most pleased). Once that Waterworks food hall opens, it could be even better, but the Impact Kitchen across the street makes a killing off of parents and dogwalkers.

The only issue was a pervasive smell of weed for the first half of our visit, but the wind eventually blew that away. That, and the Adelaide bike lane is a real challenge with intermittent closures throwing you out over streetcar tracks in fast-flowing traffic.
 

Northern Light

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Ok, here's the review of Harbour Square Park for @Tunafish13

Lets start, as per usual, with the aerial pic and a look at what the park aims to be:

Below is the highlighted property block known as Harbour Square Park EAST; as TO Maps doesn't let you highlight 2 discrete parcels the West portion will follow:

1655044143847.png

1655044284107.png


The City lists no amenities for the site except......a fieldhouse? (really?)..... and suggests passive use/picnicking is appropriate.

The all-in size of the site is surprising large, though not necessarily all that functional at ~2ha/5 acres.

Narrow entrance paths, queuing space for the Ferry Terminal, Irregular shapes, the intrusion of a private parking lot etc. eat up a great deal of space.

So lets sum up here, the intent of the space, as currently laid out is to provide passive access to the Lake; a Lakeside Path, Art/Sculpture, Seating and Picnic space, while having to share a portion of the grounds
w/the Ferry Terminal.

Now let's begin the tour as see whether the design works well at a high level, at a detailed level, and how maintenance is faring.

We'll begin at the beginning, the Park entrance (also the path to the Ferry Terminal) from Queen's Quay and Bay Street:

DSC08121.JPG


Note here that there are 2 entrance paths, this one is on the left/east of the parking garage entrance; the path to the west/right can be seen below (from Streetview):

1655045703073.png


So...right off the bat, looking at the upper photos, the path and trees were re-done as per West 8's Queen's Quay/Habourfront Public realm guidelines. Good!

But what in the @#$# are those 1970s era ashtrays....ahem, excuse me, planters doing off to one side? They're not attractive, not properly planting, they're not all the same shape and size, and they're
all off on the right hand side of the path which has clearly be organized to convey the idea of an Allee with symmetrical positioning of the trees.

There is no seating which I find obnoxious, there's also no other 'framing' of the Allee which could have been done with limited planting beds. Ah well. Oh, there's also no sign on this side of the parking garage.

Meanwhile, over on the right hand side, we can see the paving treatment was never re-done, and there's one sad sack bench..........yikes.

* note that while the Streetview pic is older, I have verified that it does represent the current state of this path accurately.

Ok.....Back to the path on the left as we walk further into the Park:


DSC08122.JPG


In the image above, we are looking to the left to the open space just north of the Ferry Terminal and abutting the rear of the hotel complex. What can one say here? The relationship between the building and the adjacent space is poor.

Were the right landscape treatment in place, and the Ferry terminal re-do as well, I would certainly hope an effort would be made to animate this space with restaurants and patios or at the very least space which properly meets the park in some way, with coordinated finishes.

***

Below, 2 images shot looking at the opposite way (right/west) from the same point as above, looking at the park landscape at that point:

DSC08123.JPG
DSC08124.JPG


The lawn, such as it is, is fine, for the most part, though the barren landscape under the trees is unfortunate. At the very least, this area should be edged, and then covered in mulch, and some protective railings put in place.
That would help manage the erosion one can see, improve tree health, and make the space appear loved. Native ground covers like Virginia Waterleaf would probably do just fine here as well, and add a green element early and late in the season, while largely disappearing under any mulch at the height of summer.

Now we'll look straight ahead, from where the paths have merged, and the Ferry Terminal is now to our more immediate left (really our 11 O'clock)

DSC08125.JPG


No sign of our nice upgraded path here, just plain, aging concrete, no seating either, @#$# !!

Note the ridiculous looking flower planters ahead on the left, which have no flowers in them and which also serve to compact the soil and harm the tree roots!

Oh and our wonderful Parks garbage cans prominent in the foreground........

***

Ok,, looking left at the Ferry Terminal:

DSC08126.JPG


The building merits no great sanction since we're getting rid of it (yay!) ......there's the last of our upgraded path over there........that's something, oh and hey, benches......

***

Moving on down the main path we encounter the Toronto culture loud and clear with signage telling you everything you shouldn't be doing in this park!


DSC08128.JPG


I kinda/sorta get the top 2.....even if I wish they were more subtle and on a straight pole, LOL......

But that bottom sign.........really? Why not add a sign saying, No Fires Allowed, or No Air Rifles or No Motorcycles or .....well you get the idea............I agree, tents aren't allow, the sign is superfluous and reeks of 'see we did something about it'.....

Also, Park hours? Really........ Pssst, these are not enforced at all and are absurd. Dumb rule, made worse by non-enforcement in that it teaches you that the rules don't mean anything.

****

Just past the sign...........hold on, what's this............?


DSC08129.JPG



Ok.....so someone got the bright idea to extend the West 8 style light fixtures into the park................I'd be fine w/that...........were they not affixed to dwarf concrete poles....... that's not the design brief at all.

The fixture and pole style clash badly. If you can't afford to do it properly, stop, put some more money in the piggy bank and do it next year! Grumble.

***

Now lets get a closer look at the treed space with empty planters we saw a couple of images up:

First we see a tree that isn't in very good health; whether that's just age or poor care I can't say........for sure...

DSC08130.JPG



Though I could ask about this strange use of landscape cloth:

DSC08131.JPG


Ok....so first, this cloth should not be going right up to the edge of the tree like that, it really serves no useful purpose. What this has been laid down for, obviously, is weed suppression. I don't mind that, but for appearance sake
if nothing else, you're supposed to keep it covered by the mulch.............which is now very thin and obviously hasn't been topped up in a long while.........

**

Below we see our giant, ugly planter, with no plants in it, weighing down and compacting the soil it shares w/the roots of the tree above....... along more very thin mulch.

DSC08132.JPG


Out of space for this post, the tour continues..............
 
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evandyk

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Harbour Square is a pretty nice picnic spot, especially if you're meeting people from the other side of town, as it's right in the middle. Pretty decent grass in most places, nice big trees for shade, lake views, and never crowded.
 

junctionist

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Harbour Square Park is the result of the terrible idea of allowing private development to dominate a large piece of waterfront land in the heart of the city, while keeping some public space around the edges. It can feel like an afterthought of a space. It typically ends up being just a place people pass through on their way to the Islands, when it could be a destination in and of itself. The surface parking lot by the water's edge is, frankly, pathetic.

It's nice to see that some money has been put into ongoing maintenance with the beautiful granite paths, but a more comprehensive rethink would be good. It would be nice to see the Westin hotel replaced by parkland one day and a new signature building for the hotel built on the other side of Queens Quay (where its low-rise conference centre stands). As an interim measure, restaurants and patios facing the park would be a great improvement in terms of improving the building's relationship with the city around it.
 

Northern Light

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We left off still by the Ferry Terminal and here is the planting bed next to it:

DSC08134.JPG


At least the Norway Maples look healthy? LOL..........hey they did re-do retaining wall at some point........its not terrible................really its just dull, for a location we showcase to tourists and the world, this really lacks ambition...........oh well.

Now, our final approach to the Lake:

DSC08135.JPG


Concrete path is uninspired, trees are healthy; though arguably the shade here is actually a bit much; but again w/the 70's vintage ashtrays masquerading as planters..........

Well, at least they have plants in them............except.......we put tropical plants here? I can see now that somebody thinks this gives it an 'island' vibe...........yeah, not so much. Ok, I'm being a bit mean, but I'm allowed at this point, LOL
Once again w/the mismatched planters! Also.... If you were to put plants here, I think there's enough green here an maybe some colour would be preferable.

Hey wait, did I just say these planters had plants? Well, not all of them......and some not for long:

DSC08136.JPG


***

Moving on...........finally, we've reached the Lake.

If this park has one top tier selling feature, its the view!

DSC08139.JPG


Now a look westward along the boardwalk:

DSC08140.png


Really, that looks pretty decent.....

Lets look back the other way:

DSC08141.png


Hey, its seating.........though the use of City-Standard street furniture benches seems a bit odd here (these are not the standard Parks bench, irrespective that I might prefer something w/a bit more panache.....but its being used...

****

Looking at the main open space for Habour Square East:

DSC08143.JPG


Really, nothing wrong here at all, a fair few tables, all in use, lawn is in fairly good condition as are most trees.

The next two show the adjacent boardwalk space here and we can see the offer of colour Muskoka chairs among the seating options, again, well used.

Overall I like this offer, but I do wish the way in which the seating is laid out was a bit more coherent, but I'm being a bit nitpicky........

DSC08144.JPG


Note the cyclist above, is police officer, on duty.

DSC08145.JPG


Nice view of the water lot that divides Harbour Square East and West:

DSC08146.JPG


Now we wrap up Harbour Square East, looking back at it from the connection point to the western portion of the Park:

DSC08147.JPG


A minor 'desire line' above could use to be formalized or obstructed.........but otherwise a fine way to exit..........

Now we look across at the connection between the two spaces:

DSC08148.JPG


This is fine overall; though.....did not you note the change in lighting style? This is because the lighting in this portion of the park was newer than the lighting further west........and the City still considers these as two discrete parks.

So the program that funded 'upgraded' lighting in the western portion didn't extend to this other park............

I think it would be worthwhile to formally consolidate these 2 parks and manage them in a more coherent way. Worth adding, the City's website actually makes no distinction between the East and West Parks.

The connection between the two parks also features a water-level, boardwalk.........on which some ducks can be found relaxing...

DSC08151.JPG


Or mulling going for a swim:

DSC08156.JPG


Our final pic for this part of the tour looks at the combination landscape feature and fish habitat between the board walk and solid land, its really quite pretty I think..........

DSC08155.JPG


In the next post we'll look at the western portion of the park and my wrap-up comments.
 

DSC

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Harbour Square Park is the result of the terrible idea of allowing private development to dominate a large piece of waterfront land in the heart of the city, while keeping some public space around the edges. It can feel like an afterthought of a space. It typically ends up being just a place people pass through on their way to the Islands, when it could be a destination in and of itself. The surface parking lot by the water's edge is, frankly, pathetic.

It's nice to see that some money has been put into ongoing maintenance with the beautiful granite paths, but a more comprehensive rethink would be good. It would be nice to see the Westin hotel replaced by parkland one day and a new signature building for the hotel built on the other side of Queens Quay (where its low-rise conference centre stands). As an interim measure, restaurants and patios facing the park would be a great improvement in terms of improving the building's relationship with the city around it.
Though I certainly agree that the hotel is an eyesore, it is worth remembering that it was built in 1975 - long before anyone had any 'waterfront' plans and was virtually the only building in the area. The Star Building was built in 1971. As far as I know, the surface parking lot adjacent to the park is private land (the condo?) not leased public space - though it really is an eyesore and now completely out of place.
 
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Northern Light

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We'll pick up where we left off, on the connection point between the East and Western portions of Habour Square Park. This shot takes a look at a lovely water feature that falls off into the Lake from the western Park.

DSC08150.JPG


DSC08149.JPG


Sitting beside that waterfall/feature under the moonlight w/the right company.......a fine way to pass the time...........just sayin.

Our next image shows us the park just to the north of the water feature:

DSC08153.JPG


The weeping willows are lovely here, and very healthy, though the desire line one can spot at a distance isn't ideal. The large building/object on the left is the sculptural centrepiece of the western portion of the park and
integrated w/the water feature as we shall see.

Lets move along now and enter the park from the connection point:

DSC08157.JPG


Now this (above) does not work for me.........there is no hard surface, which makes the path rather messy on/after a wet spell; its also of random width because people just walk wherever since they haven't been given any clear
guidance on where they should walk. This should be formalized in some way.

Worth noting here, when the western portion of the Park was built, about 1/2 the pathways were done in crushed limestone screening (fine gravel). I get what they were going for, which was more of a garden vibe. But I don't think its appropriate given the volume of pedestrian traffic. In any event there hasn't been any new gravel in years which gives the park a less cared for appearance.

****

Here's our desire line we saw above, up close:

DSC08159.JPG


This clearly needs some attention, so does the dead Birch tree before it falls on someone........

***

Next we'll move to the water's edge on this side. Plain concrete is a bit unfortunate; but I'm more amused at how most of the chains meant to discourage you from hanging your feet over the dock wall are broken and yet somehow Toronto's liability police have not orange coned it all off yet. Perhaps the TTC's lawyer is having a positive influence after all, with the ' if you're too close to the edge, its your fault' ........argument.....

DSC08160.JPG


This is adjacent to the Sculptural piece and water feature and we'll look at those next:

DSC08161.JPG


On the west side of the sculpture is a tiny ornamental wetland feature; some birds don't care its ornamental and are making good use of it!

DSC08164.JPG


DSC08163.JPG


Finally we round the corner to the pathway leading back to York Street/Queen's Quay:

DSC08165.JPG


Nothing wrong w/the above; but below, as we look back at the sculpture, we can see a planting bed neglected and weedy:

DSC08166.JPG


Just beyond this to the north, we see a lovely stone stair case up to the sculpture:

DSC08169.JPG


Right beside it, however, is a desire line, trampling a planting area. Easy enough to remedy with additional stone, and/or some protective railing...


DSC08167.JPG


And two last pics as we exit the Park:

The first is an interesting pergola structure..........the second is the view into the park on an angle from that spot, once again w/the informal-looking (but intended) dirt path:

DSC08170.JPG


DSC08172.JPG


Final Comments:

Overall, despite its small size, this 2-part park has a lot going for it and is well used.

The western portion and link between the 2 parts both feature nice landscape design that just really needs some maintenance and attention to detail; while the principal lawn in the east is quite good but for the parking lot in its midst.

The most damning thing overall about the park has to be the entrance areas from the east w/their very poor maintenance standards and wildly inconsistent and poorly executed design choices.

This park is mostly pretty good; and its issues, parking aside are really very addressable and should be bundled with the Ferry Terminal re-do as one project, which should be overseen entirely by West 8/Waterfront Toronto.
 
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DSC

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We'll pick up where we left off, on the connection point between the East and Western portions of Habour Square Park. This shot takes a look at a lovely water feature that falls off into the Lake from the western Park.

View attachment 406805

View attachment 406803

Sitting beside that waterfall/feature under the moonlight w/the right company.......a fine way to pass the time...........just sayin.

Our next image shows us the park just to the north of the water feature:

View attachment 406806

The weeping willows are loverly here, and very healthy, though the desire line one can spot as a distance isn't ideal. The large building/object on the left is the sculptural centrepiece of the western portion of the park and
integrated w/the water feature as we shall see.

Lets move along now and enter the park from the connection point:

View attachment 406807

Now this (above) does not work for me.........there is no hard surface, which makes the path rather messy on/after a wet spell; its also of random width because people just walk wherever since they haven't been given any clear
guidance on where they should walk. This should be formalized in some way.

Worth noting here, when the western portion of the Park was built, about 1/2 the pathways were done in crushed limestone screening (fine gravel). I get what they were going for, which was more of a garden vibe. But I don't think its appropriate given the volume of pedestrian traffic. In any event there hasn't been any new gravel in years which gives the park a less cared for appearance.

****

Here's our desire line we saw above, up close:

View attachment 406808

This clearly needs some attention, so does the dead Birch tree before it falls on someone........

***

Next we'll move to the water's edge on this side. Plain concrete is a bit unfortunate; but I'm more amused at how most of the chains meant to discourage you from hanging your feet over the dock wall are broken and yet somehow Toronto's liability police have not orange coned it all off yet. Perhaps the TTC's lawyer is having a positive influence after all, with the ' if you're too close to the edge, its your fault' ........argument.....

View attachment 406809

This is adjacent to the Sculptural piece and water feature and we'll look at those next:

View attachment 406810

On the west side of the sculpture is a tiny ornamental wetland feature; some birds don't care its ornamental and are making good use of it!

View attachment 406811

View attachment 406812

Finally we round the corner to the pathway leading back to York Street/Queen's Quay:

View attachment 406814

Nothing wrong w/the above; but below, as we look back at the sculpture, we can see a planting bed neglected and weedy:

View attachment 406813

Just beyond this to the north, we see a lovely stone stair case up to the sculpture:

View attachment 406815

Right beside it, however, is a desire line, trampling a planting area. Easy enough to remedy with additional stone, and/or some protective railing...


View attachment 406816

And two last pics as we exit the Park:

The first is an interesting pergola structure..........the second is the view into the park on an angle from that spot, once again w/the informal-looking (but intended) dirt path:

View attachment 406817

View attachment 406818

Final Comments:

Overall, despite its small size, this 2-part park has a lot going for it and is well used.

The western portion and link between the 2 parts both feature nice landscape design that just really needs some maintenance and attention to detail; while the principal lawn in the east is quite good but for the parking lot in its midst.

The most damning this overall about the park has to be the entrance areas from the east w/their very poor maintenance standards and wildly inconsistent and poorly executed design choices.

This park is mostly pretty good; and its issues, parking aside are really very addressable and should be bundled with the Ferry Terminal re-do as one project, which should be overseen entirely by West 8/Waterfront Toronto.
The sculpture (Sundial Folly) was somewhat restored last year and looks in much better condition now. The pergola is a nice touch but needs minor repairs and a coat of paint.

EDIT: Some info on this at https://urbantoronto.ca/forum/threa...are-park-m-s-waterfront-toronto.20631/page-27
 
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Northern Light

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The sculpture (Sundial Folly) was somewhat restored last year and looks in much better condition now. The pergola is a nice touch but needs minor repairs and a coat of paint.

The pictures I took of the sculpture are from last Friday, June 10th.
 

evandyk

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I know the point of this thread is to go over park design in detail, but like so many Toronto parks, this one could be a much better place than it is, with just a little more attention paid to maintenance (both plants and paths). And better garbage cans.

With our current mayor, parks are never going to get a bigger budget allocation overall, but this one is a pretty major space used by many tourists and residents. Maybe they could find a few bucks?
 

Northern Light

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I know the point of this thread is to go over park design in detail, but like so many Toronto parks, this one could be a much better place than it is, with just a little more attention paid to maintenance (both plants and paths). And better garbage cans.

With our current mayor, parks are never going to get a bigger budget allocation overall, but this one is a pretty major space used by many tourists and residents. Maybe they could find a few bucks?

Send an email to the Mayor's office with this thread linked; and the start of this particular park series.

Let them read it and mull it over; ya never know what might be achieved.
 

mjl08

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Thanks @Northern Light for the photos and review. I think Harbour Square Park is starting show its age, but the maintenance seems above average for Toronto PFR. That's the nicest lawn I've seen in a Toronto park in some time.

I must admit, I find the trend of scattered Adirondack/Muskoka chairs in Toronto parks is getting a tad monotonous. It seems like a stopgap measure, a way to animate parks in an economical typical Toronto way. I would prefer more permanent and sturdy public furniture.
 
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evandyk

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I like the Muskoka chairs. They are way more comfy than the other new style you see at places like Berczy or St. James (which admittedly have the benefit of being able to sit and face either way).
 

evandyk

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Especially when you have a place facing the lake, or some other place where you'd never really want to look the other way, I like them. And the double ones (they have them at Sugar Beach) are big enough for two adults and a toddler.
 

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