Join St Lawrence Clean-up day, in Berczy and beyond

20 Mar

Join our safe-distance volunteer clean-up activity on Saturday March 27, 10am-noon. Come to our meet-up spot in the Berczy mural garden (gravel area behind the Flatiron Bldg) and help us collect litter, sweep, scrub and meet a few neighbours at a safe social distance. We’ll provide rubber gloves and waste bags but feel free to bring your favorite garden gloves or a spare grocery bag for easy litter collection. We ask everyone to follow Public Health guidelines so wear a mask, keep a safe distance, and report any hazards to our site coordinator.

This is part of a same-day multi-park clean up cohosted with Friends of St James Park, St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association and the Old Town BIA.

Safety concern in Berczy Park?

18 Feb

Starting February 22, 2021, anyone witnessing disruptive or aggressive behaviours in Berczy Park has a new resource to call upon. If you observe such behaviour, used drug needles that require safe removal, or homeless persons requiring outreach or intervention, you may call the 24/7 Community Safety Team at 647-333-0478.

This team is assigned to the new temporary Homes First homeless shelter at 45 The Esplanade (the Novotel Hotel) and can respond to concerns in the park and neighbourhood and escalate to the Toronto police or other City services as required.

In summary:

  • To report disruptive or aggressive behaviour or used drug paraphelia for safe disposal: Call the Community Safety Team at 647-333-0478;
  • To report a life-threatening incident, medical emergency, or crime in progress: Call 9-11;
  • To report a crime where no person is in immediate danger (theft, vandalism, etc): Call 51 Division Police non- emergency line at 416-808-2222.

PS: Friends of Berczy Park welcomes your feedback on the effectiveness of the above safety resources in our park. Please email us at if you would like to comment on your experience with the above groups in responding to any incidents you report.

Taking the ‘brrrrr’ out of Berczy

8 Dec

The Berczy Park dog sculptures are again dressed warmly for the holidays, thanks to some local seniors who knit warm scarves to decorate our famous fountain. Members of our drop-in seniors’ knitting group once again prepared the scarves, which were installed with help from the landscaping crew from Old Town Toronto (St Lawrence Market Neighbourhood Business Improvement Association).

This is the third year the ladies have decorated the dogs to weather the long winter months. Most recently they knit masks for the dogs to promote mask-wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Friends of Berczy Park has also dressed up the dog sculptures for occasions like Canada Day, Pride Toronto and Raptors NBA playoff games.

So that the dogs are not the only ones with warm clothes, we washed and donated last year’s crimson scarves to a local homeless shelter winter clothing drive.

Thank you to our knitting ladies and the Old Town Toronto crew who came out in the cold to dress the dogs.

Berczy Park dogs don masks to promote community safety during COVID-19

10 Sep

The dogs of the Berczy Park fountain remind everyone to wear your masks for a healthy community.

With the help of members of our summer-time knitting group (local seniors who meet weekly to knit year-round), six of the Berczy brood are outfitted with customized masks, safely installed by staff from the Old Town Toronto BIA.Our Berczy dogs are well-known for dressing up for important Toronto occasions, including the holiday festival of lights, Raptors playoffs, Canada Day and Pride celebrations.

Thanks to the volunteers and knitters and local BIA staff who created this important community health reminder.

Heat wave in Berczy Park

2 Jul
Berczy looking a bit dry on these hot summer days?


Parks Dept hopes to turn on our famous fountain soon.

We are told by the City of Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation Dept that, aligned with provincial orders and public health advisories relating to COVID-19, they aim to turn on the fountain in the coming weeks. Their first priority is outdoor splash pads, wading and public pools to help communities cool off during the current heat wave.

The Parks Dept is also increasing the timing and frequency of Bercy Park lawn watering, and will apply quick release fertilizer in the coming days, to help bolster the heat-ravaged lawns.

Storytime Under the Tree

15 Jun

7F34365D-156E-4B54-948A-3BE65D94E937Miss our family storytime in the park this summer due to COVID-19 public gathering restrictions?

Then check out Storytime Under the Tree,  short, narrated video storytimes curated together by Friends of St James Park & Friends of Berczy Park. These stories narrated by members of our community will bring the fun of the park to your tablet, computer or phone, conveniently and safely, at home. Or, bring your device and your little ones to the park and view them under a tree together!

Story #4 & 5, features volunteer Tegan reading two of her favourite stories, “WE FOUND Tegan Thumbnail_2A HAT” by author and illustrator Jon Klassen and ANNA’S RAIN” by Fred Burstein and illustrated by Harvey Stevenson. Enjoy this double storytime treat!


Story #3, features community members Jon & Bruce reading “The Bad Seed” and “I am so Thumbnail Jon New CompleteBrave.” Have fun!

Story #2, features author Faiza Venzant reading her own book “My Mama Wants to Eat 104990766_945824699191998_463770725402107129_oMe Up!” and illustrated by Patrick Girouard. Enjoy here.


104297925_940838146357320_8999074812157053214_nStory #1, “Just Because”, narrated by Maranatha of Toronto Public Library St Lawrence Branch:120F7053-5341-48D5-A0A3-D9876728F320…/storytime-under-the-t…/…

Please show some ‘love’ for Berczy Park

2 Jun
3AF70459-C385-43CD-969B-BE32F8F98558With the COVID-19 pandemic reminding us how important parks and public spaces are, here are some tips to enjoy Berczy Park safely and responsibly this summer:
>  Care for the park and each other: Honour safe physical distancing of 2 metres or more in the park. And, leave no waste in the park. This is especially important since the City Parks Dept is providing only essential cleaning and maintenance at this time, including weekly mowing, clean-up crews to search for needles or other hazards, and regular emptying of waste bins.
> Pet-owners, be mindful of others in the park: We ask pet-owners to be sensitive to the need to share the park with others. This means honouring poop & scoop bylaws, since more people wish to sit, picnic and play on clean lawns. Please also be sure to control your pets, particularly keeping them on-leash so they don’t disturb others who may be uncomfortable with animals nearby. The gravel mural garden at the base of the Flatiron Bldg is designed as a pet-relief area, with a green bin/organic waste bin for used poop bags.
> Help us keep the park clean: While we cannot yet hold our volunteer park clean-up or adopt-a-tree activities due to Public Health rules, our FOBP Working Committee representatives perform daily cleaning of the movable tables & chairs for everyone’s enjoyment.  Please help us out, by picking up a piece of litter you see when you visit the park. You can do this safely by using a plastic bag or clean poop bag as a ‘mitten’ and sanitize your hands right after.
> Smoke breaks in the park: If you wish to have a smoke in the park, please don’t discard cigarette butts on the ground. This is never encouraged, since the butts are a litter, and it’s especially true now that cigarette butts represent a hygiene risk to others.
> See a crime or disruptive behaviour? If you have a safety or security complaint in the park or witness dangerous behaviour, please immediately call the Police 51 Division non-emergency line (at 416-808-2222). Even if the police cannot respond immediately, your call will be added to City reports, which can prompt more frequent patrols and inspections. Remember, it may be helpful to take and send a photo of the disturbing act, if it is safe for you to do so.
*And, only call 9-11 for emergency or  life endangering situations.  Please see the About page on our blog for details on reporting these and other incidents.
> Events in Berczy Park: We hope that someday soon we can resume our community activities, like the library children’s storytime, book-lovers group,  knitting group, as well as the cultural events hosted by the St Lawrence Market Neighbourhood Business Improvement Association (BIA). Watch for our emails, our blog  facebook or twitter (@FriendsofBerczy)  for updates. We also welcome your images on Instagram at Berczy.park.
When does the fountain turn on? Finally, the big question on many of our minds. Presently, the City does not have a date set to reactivate city fountains, due to COVID-19. They will do so when advised it is safe and recommended by Public Health.

Wondering what to do now?

28 Mar

474CF75F-9107-4AA4-B7E7-0AE846120663_4_5005_cUpdate relating to the current COVID-19 emergency:

Regarding the Toronto City parks closure, @bradrossTO of the City recently tweeted: “For absolute clarity, parks amenities, like playgrounds and sports fields, are closed. The green spaces within City parks remain accessible. Please practice physical distancing when out getting some air (and if sick, stay home). It’s the only way we will beat this thing.”

Regarding the economic and social impact on our community: 

Smoking homeless man sitting on bench in park.

Friends of Berczy Park has donated a portion of our annual fundraising proceeds to The Daily Bread Foodbank and the Good Shepherd Ministries’ meal program to help community members in need during the COVID-19 emergency. We encourage everyone to support groups like these at this time.

Regarding the wellbeing of our park:

6FBC499F-05C6-408D-90D1-0539BE187B96Pet-owners, please continue to poop & scoop as usual, and dispose of this waste in the green bin/organic waste bin in the west-side mural garden.

Everyone, please pick up a bit of litter ‘safely’ when using the park, to help keep it clean for sunnier days ahead.  Dispose of your used gloves or masks in a waste bin, as usual.

Cavalcade of Lights in Berczy Park

25 Nov

2772B2E1-A489-4DFB-8303-3C550DDB1630_4_5005_cHosted by the St Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA (Old Town Toronto) join us in Berczy Park, 35 Wellington St E, Toronto, on Saturday, November 30th, from 5:30pm-6:30pm, to welcome the holiday season into Old Town Toronto.  The Halton Jazz singers will provide festive music while you enjoy a free hot chocolate or farm fresh hot apple cider, and bask in the colourful lights of the holiday display.

Special thanks to our sponsor, BMO (Front & Berkeley) and to Tim Hortons (Scott & Wellington) for the delicious hot chocolate.

More info on Old Town Toronto events.


Facing homelessness in Berczy Park

4 Nov

A16943A5-0E84-4415-81F7-AEDF5323350DNote: See “So what can you do?”below for actions you can take and contact info.

In recent months, park users have noticed an increase in homelessness in Berczy Park, particularly individuals sleeping on benches. The possible reasons are many, including escalating opioid addiction, the rising mental health issue in society, shortage of shelter space and low-income housing, and even the recent closure of St James Park for renovations, a favorite spot for many homeless.

Smoking homeless man sitting on bench in park.Community reaction to this reality is diverse. Some overlook the issue while others offer spare change to homeless persons or donate to organized shelters. Others simply say they want the homeless removed from the park, citing the eyesore or risk to health and safety created by these individuals, who they may blame for the increased litter or hazardous materials in the park.

Everyone has a right to their own views on this issue. However, Friends of Berczy Park offers these points to consider, if you wonder how to address this issue:

  • images-22Friends of Berczy Park has observed many types of homeless persons in the park:
    • passive, harmless daytime visitors killing time;
    • aggressive panhandlers;
    • ‘overnight’ squatters who sometimes leave behind waste, needles and vomit;
    • well-intentioned homeless persons who have spent hours cleaning the park and self-policing the area to create order in their temporary ‘home’.

Clearly, we cannot label or paint all homeless persons with the same brush.

  • Friends of Berczy Park’s philosophy is that Berczy Park is a public space and everyone is welcome, as long as they respect other park users and cause no harm to the park or others. Homeless persons should be as welcome in Berczy Park as any other member of society who respects others and does no harm.
  • The Berczy Park designer chose not to include anti-homeless park features in the PB1076-001-Gpark design, such as restrictive armrests on park benches to prevent sleeping. Some social justice advocates feel such physical barriers create an exclusionary ‘You are not welcome in this space’ message. The park was designed with features to discourage illegal activities, such as extensive lighting and open lines of sight from the streets and paths.
  • Friends of Berczy Park works with the City and Parks Dept to find solutions to issues that arise, such as lighting or maintenance to discourage illegal or unsafe activities. The City has implemented daily/seasonal park clean-up crews to ensure Berczy and other parks are in good condition.
  • Friends of Berczy Park encourages you to call 3-11 or the Toronto Police non-emergency line if you see disruptive behavior in the park by any park user. You should call 9-11 if you see actual criminal activity or life-threatening events occurring
  • beltline24Friends of Berczy Park does call upon – and encourages others to contact the Toronto Parks Dept’s Park Ambassador Service – to make on-site, outreach visits to homeless persons who appear to be in distress or are behaving in a harmful way.
  • Friends of Berczy Park maintains equipment (gloves and disposal bottles) in our park volunteer supplies bin to remove hypodermic needles or other hazards. We have safely removed such items to the designated bio-hazards disposal bin in St James Park and to local pharmacy counters, who are obliged under license to accept such hazardous waste items.
  • Friends of Berczy Park holds the belief that simply ‘shooing’ homeless persons out of a public space is not a solution to the problem. This is only shifting this societal issue out of sight where it may create worse impacts.

So what can you do?

  • Decide for yourself if you wish to donate to or support homeless persons directly. You may also inform yourself about non-profit agencies or shelters to support or make referrals to homeless persons in need.
  • Report crimes, dangerous or at-risk behaviour to the authorities, so they can take immediate action AND compile important data on the issue, for future allocation of government resources to the issue.
    • Call Toronto Police 51 Division, in these cases:
      • Non-emergency: If you require Police assistance, but are not in an emergency situation (e.g. Reporting thefts, vandalism, fraud) or for other situations where no person or property is in immediate danger, please call our non-emergency telephone number 416-808-2222.
      • Emergencies or Crimes in progress: 9-11, If you require emergency assistance, or want to report a crime in progress, please call 9-1-1. An emergency is any situation where people or property are at risk. (including but not limited to fires, crimes in progress or medical emergencies.)
    • Call 3-11 (or tweet @311toronto) to report unsanitary or generally disturbing conditions in Berczy Park such as damage to facilities. This information will be directed to the City Ward 13 Park Supervisor for action or the appropriate City department.
    • To seek homeless outreach with homeless persons who you believe require ‘attention’ (ie. they are not committing a crime and are not in a risk-to-life situation but may require help or intervention by professionals), you may call 3-11 and ask that your request by sent to the Parks Dept. Parks Ambassador 3-11 can contact the Parks Ambassador team on your behalf to respond.
  • To help keep Berczy Park safe, right now:
    • Help us keep the park clean, by picking up at least one piece of litter you see. Waste like chicken bones, broken glass or suspicious items pose an immediate risk to others, so be a good neighbour and dispose of these items if you see them, before someone else is harmed.
    • You can post a message or image on our Friends of Berczy Park Facebook page to alert our group and other community members to the issue quickly.
    • If you see very unclean or unsafe conditions in the Park, call 3-11 or tweet @311toronto) to report the problem.
    • You can also e-mail Friends of Berczy Park ( so we can report or track the issue, or we may be able to dispatch a local volunteer (ie needle disposal or discarded waste that poses a threat to pets or park visitors.)
  • To work for longer-term solutions, call or write your City Councillor (Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam in Ward 13, Toronto Centre (includng Berczy Park) or Councillor Joe Cressy (adjacent Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York) to share your views on the homeless situation. Your input will help them advocate for additional or appropriate City services to address urban issues including homelessness.
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