You asked … about skateboarders

18 Jul

a-skateboarder-jumpingA community member asks, “I’ve heard that damage has been done to Berczy Park by skateboarders. What is being done to resolve this problem?”

We answer: There have been incidents in which a few skateboarders have aggressively jumped and ‘grinded’ across various park features, causing visible damage. Park visitors also witnessed boarders jumping off the new cast metal dog sculptures, causing damage. These boarders refused to stop when challenged by members of the public. Although most boarders have stopped their actions when challenged by park–users, a small group of boards have behaved defiantly and with apparent intention to cause damage. Fortunately, there have not been reports of this activity in recent weeks.

What is being done?

  • The City has installed ‘no skateboarding’ by-law signage in the park and added various protective ‘skatestoppers’, ‘knobs’ and guards on park stages and the fountain edge to discourage skateboarding.
  • More preventative skatestoppers have been ordered, including ‘speed bumps’ to protect the dog sculptures located outside the fountain rim.
  • The Police and City By-law enforcement officers have been asked to patrol the park more frequently to prevent harmful behaviour by any park visitor, including persons who litter, don’t poop & scoop or leash their dogs, and skateboarders.
  • And, the City will repair the damage done to the dog sculptures and other park features.
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New anti-skateboarding ‘knobs’ added to Berczy platforms.

Naturally, these measures won’t completely eliminate the issue, since skateboarders will continue to ‘discover’ the park and, as mentioned, a few aggressive boarders may ignore the rules from time to time.

So, what can you do?

  1. If you see skateboarders, first, observe their behaviour. Don’t over-react if they are not actually causing damage or interfering with others’ use of the park.
  2. If you do see them doing harm or impacting others, you may try speaking politely with them. Explain how their actions are harmful and ask them to stop. Most boarders will honour your request.
  3. If they won’t respect your request, you should call the 51 Division Police Non-emergency number (416-808-2222) to report the activity and ask for officers to be dispatched. You may take smartphone photos of the boarders from a safe distance, to discourage their action or to serve as evidence for the police. Do not escalate the situation or put yourself in harm’s way.
  4. 10950667_834855399885956_6523870176803578015_nAnd, help develop longer-term solutions: Keep in mind that part of the problem is a lack of approved areas for skateboarders to practice their sport in the City. If skateboarders have appealing, authorized places to gather, they will be less likely to appear in our park. For this reason, Friends of Berczy Park has been in discussion with the Toronto Skateboarding Committee, (on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/torontoskateboarding/) a 13418960_1103847939653366_8528812750073098110_ngroup that is working with various City councillors and Parks’ Dept officials to find solutions, including the creation of dedicated skate parks, improvements to current ones, or the addition of appropriate skateboard features in existing public spaces. We believe it is important to work constructively to find solutions for everyone, including skateboarders, rather than attempting to simply banish a group from the park. Read the Toronto Skateboarding Committee materials and write/email to your City councillor to urge them to focus on developing positive solutions to this issue.

In memory of Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell

7 Jul
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Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell admiring the Berczy fountain on June 28, 2017.

Friends of Berczy Park extends our deepest condolences to the family, friends, colleagues and dedicated staff of Deputy Mayor and City Councillor for Ward 28 Pam McConnell who worked tirelessly to drive the revitalization of Berczy Park.

We understand that the grand re-opening of Berczy Park on June 28th was her last public event and she was determined to leave the hospital to attend the ceremony.

Thanks Pam for helping bring our beautiful new park to life for the community!

Below is text from City Manager Peter Wallace on Pam’s passing: “With sadness, I must inform you that Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell passed away earlier today at the age of 71. Deputy Mayor McConnell served downtown residents for several decades. She was a school teacher before becoming a school trustee in 1982. In 1994, she became a City councillor and spent countless hours working with residents and groups to build healthy communities for all Torontonians. This present term marked Deputy Mayor McConnell’s seventh at Council. She served as Deputy Mayor, South and was selected by Mayor Tory in 2015 as the champion of the City’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. She also served as a member of the Government Management Committee, the Affordable Housing Committee, and the Toronto and East York Community Council as well as several other boards, committees and Business Improvement Areas. Flags at City Hall, Metro Hall and the Toronto civic centres will be lowered to half-mast. They will remain lowered until the end of the day of her funeral. Books of condolence will be available at Toronto City Hall beginning tomorrow for staff and members of the public to express their condolences. An online book of condolence will also be available at http://cityoftorontocondolences.ca beginning tomorrow. Funeral service arrangements will be forthcoming.”

Berczy Park Grand Re-opening moments

4 Jul

DDcXTDkXoAEvohrFive years after the initial idea of a Berczy Park revitalization took hold, Berczy Park celebrated a lively grand re-opening event on June 28, 2017. The event, hosted by The City of Toronto, St Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA, Friends of Berczy Park and other community partners, drew well over 500 attendees to unveil the beautiful new $7.2 million park.

Following live music, children’s face-painting and storytelling – and a unique performance art appearance by Les Moutons, actors dressed as shepherd and sheep in the new park green space – speeches were made by Deputy Mayor and Councillor Pam McConnell, Mayor John Tory, and park designers Claude Cormier and Marc Halle of Claude Cormier et associes of Montreal. The crowd gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony by the whimsical cast iron fountain with 27 dog sculptures (& one cat).

If you missed the event, or want to re-live some of the highlights, enjoy our slideshow below. Thank you to all the photographers who shared these photos on Twitter and Instagram,  including Jon from EstatePhotoArt.

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“Ask our pet trainer” at Pet-lovers Day in Berczy Park on July 8

2 Jul
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Ask our pet trainer to teach Rex a new trick a Pet-Lovers Day on July 8th

Are you ready to teach Rex a new trick? Or struggling to address jumping, barking, recall or other behavioural issues in your dog?

Then definitely join us for our third event on Saturday July 8th to take advantage of our free  “Ask the Pet Trainer” activity. Join Mary Fraser, a certified trick trainer with nearly a decade of experience training dogs & cats in postive reinforcement and motivational training methods. An expert puppy trainer, clicker trainer and groomer, Mary can teach your dog a new trick on the spot, or offer suggestions to help you work through common issues with your pet.

In the meantime, check out these images from our June 3rd event courtesy of our amazing photographer Jon from EstatePhotoArt.com. And, congratulations to our raffle prize winners from that day, Ian M. and Christina L. who picked up great prizes from Park9 and PetValu.

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If these photos have your tail wagging, stop by the park on Saturday July 8 for free coffee from Tim Hortons and pet treats from PetValu. And, register for great raffle prizes, including gourmet pet cookies from Northern Biscuit Bakery, and deluxe pet bath and nail trim gift certificates from Park9!

By the way: Got old pet toys, clothes or supplies you don’t need? Bring them to our event and we’ll donate them to Project Jessie, a rescue and adoption program run by the Animal Alliance of Canada.

So, look for our table in the mural garden/pea gravel on-leash pet area, behind the Flatiron Bldg.

  • Saturday, July 8, 9:30-11:30am
  • Rain date: The Sunday after, from 9:30-11:30am

Special thanks to our sponsors: Northern Biscuit Bakery, Park 9 Urbandog play care in the Distillery District/37 Parliament St; PetValu, 184 Front St E; and Tim Horton’s at 33 Yonge & 55 Front St E.

 

Adopt a tree in Berczy Park

28 Jun

IMG_2932You told us loud and clear – Now it’s your chance to make an impact in your park!

Friends of Berczy Park members have repeatedly told us that the trees are what you value most in our park. So, join our Friends of Berczy Park Adopt-a-Tree program to help care for these trees and create greenery that generations will enjoy!

Thanks to generous support from the LEAF non-profit organization,  Friends of Berczy Park is inviting community-members to play a hands-on role helping us tend the young trees during their first couple of vulnerable years of life. Volunteer adopters can take part at no cost!

IMG_1408What’s involved? Not too much:

  • Attend quick training in the park to be assigned your tree and learn to water and care for the tree.
  • Come once a week to water your tree, using the hose and supplies installed by Friends of Berczy Park. – likely 30 minutes per week. If needed, we can match you with a buddy to share the task when you are busy.
  • Although registered volunteers should be 18-years-of-age or older, this is a great activity for a family to do together, or an adult participant to bring along a youngster and involve them in nature.
  • Best of all, this is a free activity for our adopters, thanks to our sponsor LEAF.

How do I sign up?

  • Easy! Send an email to berczypark@gmail.com with the subject line ‘Adopt-a-tree’ program. Include your full name, address and phone #, and any questions you may have. We’ll respond and arrange a date for your brief orientation/training along with the other volunteers.
  • Expect the training and program to get under way by mid-late July, 2017.

Aren’t the Berczy Park trees on an irrigation system?

fullsizeoutput_1a15About half of the trees in Berczy Park are on an irrigation system with the innovative ‘silva cell’ technology to collect rain water and allow deep roots to grow (the trees on hard surface/pavement).

However, the rest of the trees (on turf/lawn areas) require regular watering like any young tree. So, we have lovely recently-planted elms, oaks, tulip trees and magnolia, as well as a number of mature/preserved trees, including ginkgo, katsura, pagoda, and amur cork, that need to be adopted too.

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LEAF’s Young Urban Forestry Leaders are ready to teach us how to be great stewards of Berczy Park.

How will we know what to do?

Friends of Berczy Park is grateful to have won a grant from LEAF, and its corporate and government sponsors, (among them TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and the City of Toronto) to introduce their widely-admired Adopt-a-Tree program in our park. During spring/summer 2017, LEAF’s Young Urban Forestry Leaders (female post-secondary students studying the fields of urban forestry and arboriculture) will inventory the Berczy Park trees, develop a stewardship plan for the park and help Friends of Berczy roll out the program. They are the experts and they’ll teach us how to run a successful program like others in Toronto parks.

That’s it! Thanks in advance for raising your hand to volunteer, for trying out your ‘green thumb’, and for helping make our new park green, lush and beautiful for many years to come!

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The official Grand Re-opening of YOUR Berczy Park

15 Jun

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A bit of Berczy history: Meet Berczy-backer Marie Day

14 Jun
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This parking lot occupied the site of present day Berczy Park in the 1970s.

If you think a few people can’t move City Hall, you should talk to Marie Day. After all, she deserves a lot of the credit for creating Berczy Park, despite tough odds.

Back in the 1960s and 70s, Marie, was one of a handful of concerned citizens who banded together to insist that the City convert a parking lot at Church and Wellington Streets into the Berczy Park we know today.

A long-time Toronto resident, whose career included writer, illustrator and stage director, Marie got her spirit for civic involvement from an early age. As the daughter of Mayor Ralph Day (1938-40), Marie remembers being just a little kid when she had to present a bouquet of flowers to Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother) during a ceremony at Old City Hall.

Observing her father’s political life, Marie notes that, “I would never go into politics, but I felt we all had to pay our taxes, speak up and participate in our City.” (She later became a key organizer in the Bring Back the Don Task Force in the 1980s.)

While Marie admits some of the details are a bit fuzzy from 40 years back, when she was busy raising her children, she definitely recalls meeting with four other community-minded citizens who felt an injustice had occurred on the present site of Berczy Park. After the City had demolished more than 18,000 buildings* between 1965 and 1975, Day and her friends discovered that the block behind the Flatiron Bldg was listed as ‘parkland’ when in fact it was serving as a commercial parking lot.

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Site of Berczy Park, pre-1980 after the commercial parking lot was removed.

The group prepared a petition and lobbied the nearby businesses and City officials to make the block an actual park as the City Plan had designated the plot. Marie recalls a lot of back and forth discussions with the parking lot operator, who initially agreed only to add a few trees and grass at one end of the parking lot. This ‘mini-fight’ continued for some time before the commercial and civic interests relented to Marie’s group.

Marie remembers fondly the day the City finally bulldozed the unsightly parking booth that occupied the Berczy site: “We all went down to watch the demolition with a big grin on our faces and we shouted ‘Horray’ that the days of the parking lot had ended.”

While Marie is sad at the destruction of so much of the neighbourhood’s historic architecture, she’s proud of her ‘small role’ in bringing Berczy Park to life: “I’m also happy to see that people speak up a lot more these days and that young people have so many ways to get informed and join together for causes they care about.”

Thank you to you, Marie.

* The Toronto Story, Claire MacKay, Annick Press Ltd.

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