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Northern Light

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@mjl08 and @evandyk

Personally, I'm fine w/the Muskoka chairs.

My issue in this particular park is their somewhat haphazard placement.

They aren't a solution to everything, but they do offer a different type of seating, and some bright bursts of colour, and if the desire is to make those a key feature of Toronto waterfront parks, then that's fine.

But.....

I'm not so much for them being in the middle of a boardwalk; nor am I particularly keen on their random placement on some grass.

I think using them as a beach/sand chairs works particularly well; they tend to look and function better in clusters; I'd just like to see........as with so much in our Parks, just a bit more thought before an ad hoc choice is made.
 

evandyk

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I just like them because they are very comfy! I don't think I've ever been walking in a park and been annoyed by one of them blocking my way.

But honestly, with a three year old, there are not many places I can just sit down in one place for a while. Sugar Beach is an exception to the rule because he can dig in the sand. Any other park and I will be chasing him around constantly. Or a playground, of course, but I don't know of any playgrounds with Muskoka chairs (the fun spinning ones at Aitken Place are not close enough to the playground to supervise him).

I would be very happy if they installed Muskoka chairs next to playgrounds...
 

junctionist

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The Muskoka chairs are comfortable and inviting. Plus, they remind us that our city is located on a big lake that's there for us to enjoy. You don't need to drive 3 hours to a cottage to relax in a Muskoka chair by a beautiful lake.

I hope the parks department keeps them and maintains them well. From what I recall, we got them because they were part of a movie shoot. The producers didn't need them after the shoot and donated them to the city.
 
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44 North

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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.





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:



The weeping willows are lovely 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:



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:



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.....



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



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!





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



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



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



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




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:



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.

Nice synopsis bro. That park is a slice of heaven. It's unfortunate that the sculpture has turned into a junkie spot, but otherwise it's looking good. The fountain is awesome. Very likely just a simple pump, bringing lake water to run over stones. Nothing fancy and as straightforward as you can get, yet it's one of the best fountains in the city. We need more like it.
 

tripwire

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I like the muskoka chairs, but it'd be nice to have more picnic tables - especially in bigger parks like Harbour Square.
 

kmac12

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I'd suggest Osler park. It just finished a study and is set for redevelopment. Would be interesting to see the before and after reviews.

My take on it right now is there some clear mistakes
- Fence placement makes no sense set back from sidewalk.
- No clear access from Humbert street
- Dog park isn't a true dog park and is only fenced in on three sides.

But other than that is a very useable park and is almost always full of kids.

I don't understand how the parks set for redevelopment are picked. Right now it looks like they are trying to upgrade a B park and fix all the mistakes to make it A, but there are a lot of F and D level parks that probably should be brought up first.
 

Northern Light

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I don't understand how the parks set for redevelopment are picked. Right now it looks like they are trying to upgrade a B park and fix all the mistakes to make it A, but there are a lot of F and D level parks that probably should be brought up first.

I will happily add your request to the list.

But in the meantime, I can answer how this park was prioritized w/absolute assurance, because its buried in the presentation for the meeting:

1655242011152.png


There was only one place the DOLA would ever go, which is on the nearly grassless, not great excuse for a sports field.

The moment the direction was made to eliminate it, the minimum that had to be done was contemplate how to use the entirety of the current field space, which then necessitates some follow-on changes.

There's actually a good deal of info in that presentation, which I can cover in more detail later.........but let me link you in:

 

DSC

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I don't understand how the parks set for redevelopment are picked. Right now it looks like they are trying to upgrade a B park and fix all the mistakes to make it A, but there are a lot of F and D level parks that probably should be brought up first.
At least in (former) Ward 28 and now Ward 13, parks tended/tend to move up and down the priority lists as local developments provided the opportunity for additional $$$$. Pam McConnell put lots of Section 37 money into Berczy and Wong-Tam (and Pam) did same for St James. Crombie Park is actually in Ward 10 but used by both Wards 10 & 13 and there is lots of nearby development so I think it too will get some enhanced funding. (Section 37 $$ are supposed to be spent near the development that generates them - there are also, of course the "parks levies' under Section 42 of the Act.
 

kmac12

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I think the final design is really good. https://www.toronto.ca/city-governm...velopment/osler-playground-park-improvements/

Will see how well they execute it. But as long as they get the kid the kids playground right the rest seems pretty hard to screw up.

I'd suggest a lot more of an aim small miss small approach in general. Don't do too much. Don't do anything that requires expert level skill or maintenance to pull off.
 
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Northern Light

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Ok @smably you trouble-maker you.............here's your review of Trinity-Bellwoods......this one is way into multi-post before we start........

This park is a whopping 14.6 hectares or 36.5 acres which just takes a lot of photos and discussion to cover...........so bear w/me everyone.........

Let's start w/what Trinity Bellwoods is supposed to be and a look at it from an aerial perspective to get an understanding of what we're looking at......

This is the City's facility listing for the park:

1656810684426.png


Off the top, a couple of items to flag here....................I'm quite sure there's only one playground; I didn't see two, and on maps of the park on see no evidence of 2; I'm assuming this is the City's standard move of classifying 'junior' and 'senior' equipment as 2 different facilities. There are 3 washrooms buildings............why are only 2 'listed'? .............how can there be 8 picnic areas but only 4 drinking fountains and 2 washrooms.............? Seriously though.........

At any rate, lets move on to some aerial photos/maps:

1656810895294.png


1656811009456.png


Ok..........how to approach this space? Its enormous.............so the order is invariably imperfect and involves some doubling back.... but while the main entrance is certainly at the south end, we're going to start at the north, because that's the way in which I walked the park!

So let's begin along Dundas........

DSC08250.JPG


So above we see the most easterly entrance, along the northern flank of the park.

While there's nothing terribly wrong w/it, I'm not overjoyed either.................anyone want to guess at my first criticism?

Yeah, that's right..........where's the sign? Where's the name of the park? I don't care how many entrances a park has, I want an entrance sign with a name at each and every one of them. Its a practical safety issue if nothing else. If someone encounters a problem and phones 911, they need to be able to say, " I am here" .........the absence of signage is lazy........and cheap........the typical Toronto Parks large sign is ~ $1,500 installed. To borrow from 'Nike'......'Just do it'!

Ok.........so let's have a closer look shall we:

DSC08251.JPG


Ok then..........this entry features no special landscaping..........no seating................and.......and...........porta-pottys? Seriously?

Wait, let me turn to the left...........what's this:

DSC08252.JPG



Well, ok then, there's a drinking fountain that looks like an ashtray..............well........seriously now, that's better than no drinking fountain..........but I don't like the look and the placement is a just a bit off..........

***

Before we go into the park, lets walk along the Dundas frontage and see what there is to see!


DSC08253.JPG


Lots of these lovely green vent stacks............ On the upside these are necessary to ensure the park doesn't explode..........LOL

On the downside.........prominent feature, undisguised reminding you of the kind of damage we did as a community to a once natural ravine...............

***

Now we're over in the far western block, from Crawford to Shaw, looking south-west across the park:

DSC08254.JPG


Dull, asphalt pathway aside, this isn't bad really............though boy is it dark over on the right hand side...........what gives w/that?

DSC08257.JPG


We're now looking back towards Dundas though that same very dark spot..............with no grass or other vegetation.............

Oh....that's why.....
DSC08256.JPG


In my chubby hand above is a leaf from one of those trees casting so much shade........what I'm showing you is that the sap from the stem is creamy white. ..... Which means............nope......its not native Maple.

All native Maples (Sugar, Red, Black, Silver) have clear sap. Only one maple produces white/creamy sap........Norway Maple. a non-native, invasive tree under which almost nothing will grow except another Norway Maple!

Now a quick look at the remainder of this north-west quadrant of the park:

DSC08258.JPG


DSC08259.JPG


DSC08260.JPG



The good news, the lighting is attractive, the benches are City-standard, but fine.............the trees are mostly healthy...........

The bad news, unattractive pathways in sub-optimal condition and nothing really special about this space either.

We'll return to the main park in the next post.........and begin with a look at Crawford............
 
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Northern Light

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So now we arrive back at Crawford, heading east back into the main body of the park:

First we see a historical plaque which show us photos of the Crawford St. Bridge buried below. The bridge is still entirely intact underground, though the balustrades and lights atop it have long been removed.

Here its important to note that a large chunk of Trinity-Bellwoods Park was once home to Garrison Creek and an associated valley feature. Only the 'Dog Bowl' remains as evidence of that original feature the rest having been backfilled.

DSC08262.JPG


The City a number of years ago, debated trying to raise Garrison Creek in whole or in part.............unfortunately, its waters have been substantially intertwined with the sanitary sewer system and surfacing the creek in a state permissible for public health would be prohibitively expensive. (think a price tag with a B at the start)

DSC08263.JPG


Above, we're actually standing on the buried Crawford Street Bridge.

****

Pausing for a moment............you wonder what Garrison Creek looks like today? This is the creek as it passes under College Street:

1656813037589.png

From: http://www.vanishingpoint.ca/garrison-creek-sewer-history

Ok, so let's cross the road, shall we, to the east side of Crawford:

DSC08264.JPG


More mediocre pavement, some of it in pretty terrible condition.....................note the desire line (unplanned dirt path) off to the left........indicating that the path either does not go where park users wish to; and/or
the path is unusable condition and people are going around the problem section.

DSC08267.JPG


A bit further in...........and there's virtually no grass at all here.............people are trampling every which way, straight, left and right.............leaving what must be nothing but a heap of mud after a rain fall.

DSC08268.JPG


Above, we're looking back from the same spot, westward towards the backyards of homes fronting Crawford. It ought not to be too much to ask for a uniform, high-quality fencing treatment here. Yes, the City should pay for it.

But it would benefit everyone. Though how any property owner, who has property of this kind of value can stomach that for a backyard fence is frankly beyond me.........

***

Now we're looking south, parallel to those homes along the pathway lining the west side of the 'bowl'.......


DSC08269.JPG


Now let's turn the other way and walk along the northern rim of the bowl:

DSC08270.JPG


A bit further and the CN Tower comes into view in the south:

DSC08271.JPG


Lets Zoom that:

DSC08272.JPG


Pretty good views............pity about the lack of seating to take advantage of that view..................oh....wait a moment.........there's a bench off to the north side of the path:

DSC08273.JPG


Sure, its too far back to get a good view..........it has no pad, so its sinking into the mud........and its more tagged that a back alley on Queen West.............but...............but........

Ok, just a bit further and we can look back at where we started, the entrance from Dundas along the eastern flank of the the northern side of the park:

DSC08274.JPG


Yup, there's our porta-pottys......

Now looking left/west from that same spot:

DSC08275.JPG


DSC08276.JPG


You know, its not terrible or anything, it really isn't............but on an absolutely beautiful Saturday, July 2nd, roughly at Noon...............its pretty damned empty.................

Put simply, this is under-achieving space. A modest hint of landscaping, a few picnic tables, a drinking fountain would do wonders here................

Next, we'll start to look at the eastern flank of the park.
 

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Northern Light

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Ok, east we go! Let's have a look at the park's Class A (best-in-class) baseball diamond............

DSC08277.JPG


DSC08283.JPG


Really? That load of rust is 'class A'..........? Uhh, not in my books its not.............if this is A? Do I want to see 'B' or 'C'?

Lets take a moment to note here the presence of buildings fronting Dundas to the north in behind the diamond on the left hand side..............we'll come back to that later.......

Now looking away from the Diamond, to the right, off the park pathway that skirts the edge of the bowl:

DSC08278.JPG



DSC08279.JPG


Yes, that's a drinking fountain well hidden on the right hand side.....

Now, we approach some stairs to the lower bowl:

DSC08284.JPG


DSC08285.JPG


Anyone else not notice something? That's right, there's no signage at all telling you where the stairs go...........by the way has anyone seen a map at any point showing the layout of the park or how to find anything? Me neither.........

Ok.....lets just head down the stairs............

DSC08286.JPG


Oh, so that's where you find the closed washroom that's at least partial justification for all the porta-potties.........

DSC08288.JPG


Doesn't that look lovely and well cared for............?

**

Hey what's in behind the building at the base of the slope:

DSC08287.JPG


Anyone want some spare barricades or trash cans?

***

Now that we're down in the dog bowl...........what's this space look like anyway?

Hmmm, some mowed slope, ending in a picnic table with a traffic cone in front of it (oh and behind it, partially sunken)................nah....I'm not even asking.........

DSC08289.JPG


Then there's a staircase up to the west side of the bowl:

DSC08290.JPG


Ok, so let's look at this slope a bit more closely.............its meant to be 'naturalized' as in, isn't this a nice bit of forest............well.......

DSC08292.JPG
DSC08293.JPG



You notice all that blank space on the slope? Where did we see that before.................oh right.......under the canopy of Norway Maple trees, a non-native, invasive species........

Does anything grow on this slope that's good?

DSC08300.JPG



Well...........above we seem some big leaves that some might think look like Rhubarb..........but in fact, this is Burdock, a non-native invasive species............which when it bolts...........gives us 'burrs'......yes, those annoying things that stick
to your clothes......

Below............we see another non-native invasive plant........Garlic Mustard....:

DSC08301.JPG


Sigh..........Is it nice to see the space is cared for?

****

More to come in the next post.
 

Northern Light

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Ok, where were we? Oh right, working our way out of the 'dog bowl'...........

DSC08294.JPG


I hope dogs find this more exciting than I do............

Also......no fences? Hmmm

***

Beside this area, we see what is either a patio for a non-existent resto............or what is supposed to be a stage of some kind.........

Either way......

DSC08295.JPG


As we move along.............about to climb the hill out of the bowl..........a question pops to mind..........isn't this one of the parks with private security hired to prevent people setting up tents?

'Cause............ummm....


DSC08299.JPG


Just sayin..............

***

Ok, now we're back out of the bowl, on the west side (Crawford side)......:

DSC08302.JPG


Above: I know they meant well, the intent here was to separate cycling and pedestrian traffic.............but the design choice is just..........well..........weird? I don't get it...............

Its not intuitive who would use which side of the path........the dirt side isn't particularly desirable if wet.............

DSC08304.JPG


Above, we see a large 'fenced off' area...........I'm not quite sure why to be honest.........

DSC08306.JPG


Above is the pathway out to Crawford from the middle of the park.

***

Below we see the children's playground..........there are some parents/kids in the space.........but compared to what we saw in our tour of Christie Pits the space is profoundly under-utilized.

DSC08307.JPG


This is the condition of the fence, next to the playground:

DSC08309.JPG


Need I say more?

***

Finally, we see a well-used spot in the park............the children's Waterplay area:

DSC08310.JPG


This is a wading pool................there are.........3 Green shirts (City staff) (far person is a parent)............that seems like a lot for a tiny wading pool.............. just sayin......

***

Beyond the playground, we have volleyball courts............:

DSC08314.JPG


Hmm, no one here, no nets in place either........

***

To the south of the playground........look what I found.....open washrooms.................


DSC08315.JPG


Does that not exude a cared-for appearance that just screams safe for women/families?

Lets wrap this part of the park up with a look at the community centre/pool: (of which the washrooms above are a part)

DSC08316.JPG


DSC08317.JPG


Above: tagging, glass-block, and jail bars...........nothing says cared for space like the above............

Hey, in fairness, below...........the City did, eventually, do better on the southern portion of the facility:

DSC08318.JPG


With that, we move to the next post!
 

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