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 (berczypark@gmail.com) 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.

Pumpkin Parade in Berczy Park

21 Oct

TSA_OldTown_Halloween2019The St Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA will host its popular Old Town Toronto Pumpkin Parade in Berczy Park this year (due to the construction closure in St Jame Park).

Visit Berczy Park on the evening of Nov 1st to admire the jack o’lanterns carved by local kids, businesses and other community members, illuminated to make a spooky, fun evening, and great photos!

And, thanks to event sponsor BMO Bank of Montreal, Front & Berkeley Streets, you can enjoy live music and free hot chocolate and cider.

Want to contribute your own pumpkin artwork to the display? By all means! Bring your carved artwork to the event so BIA volunteers can add it to the parade. BIA staff will remove all pumpkins at the end of the evening.

Cheer for the Marathoners in Berczy Park on Sunday Oct 20th!

10 Oct

Marathon poster FINAL-3As usual, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon route will run along the border of Berczy Park, on Sunday October 20, beginning at 10:30am.

Join the rambunctious, annual neighbourhood cheering squad (organized by Jamii arts organization, Princess St Children’s Garden, Canada Running Series and Friends of Berczy Park). Pick your spot along the street by Berczy Park (between Church and Scott Streets) and enjoy the music and excitement while rooting for these world-class runners as they complete the final kilometre to the City Hall finishline.

And, by simply showing up and contributing your voice or applause to our noisy cheering squad, you can help the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood again win a prize for ‘Best Neighbourhood Cheering Section’ by the Marathon organizers. This award includes prize money from the Marathon sponsor that will be directed to non-profit groups and community activites right in our neighbourhood.

Want to involve your children or pets? Then come out at 9:30am on the 20th to join the 1Km Family Run. Meet at the St Lawrence Cafe at 248 The Esplanade for a fun run through the community with prizes.

So, come out to have some fun cheering for the runners and support your local community at the same time!

And special thanks to our generous community sponsors including Concert Properties (88 Scott and The Berczy), Great West Life Realty Advisors (33 Yonge Street), Tim Horton’s (33 Yonge and 55 Front ST East), Aramarck Scotiabank Conference Centre (40 King West), Aroma Espresso Bar (20 Wellington ST E), and Novotel Toronto Centre.

Cheer on the Marathon on October 20th

19 Sep

On Sunday, October 20th 2019, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon will be passing through our neighbourhood, specifically on Wellington St. E, adjacent to Berczy Park. The first runners are expected at approximately 10:45am.

IMG_0460The Marathon offers a unique opportunity to each of the 12 neighbourhoods that the race passes through, to organize their own cheering section in hopes of being awarded a monetary prize for “Best Neighbourhood Cheering Section”.

Jamii, in partnership with Friends of Berczy Park and Children’s Princess Garden, has organized the St Lawrence Market neighbourhood cheering section for the past 5 years, with the sponsorship support of Canada Running Series Foundation. We have won the First Prize two years in a row. This prize money has allowed all three not-for-profit organizations to bring more programming and events to our community, especially for youth and families. The marathon is a very important fundraising opportunity for all three local community groups.

fullsizeoutput_2257As part of our cheering section this year, we will have drummers (African and Brazilian), dancers, crafts and decoration. The music, together with the runners’ families and marathon fans will help motivate the 25,000 runners from around the world on their last kilometre before the finish line. The entertainment will start at 10:30am and willend at 3pm.IMG_0455

Thank you in advance for your tolerance to the noise that the cheering section will generate. Your support of our cheering section is important. We encourage you to join our groups, neighbours and plenty of kids at the cheering section to support the runners at the final kilometre.

If you have any concerns about the cheering section, please contact us at isorine@jamiiesplanade.org

Sincerely,
The Jamii team, Friends of Berczy Park, Children’s Princess Garden

Discover Nordic Pole Walking

12 Sep

batons_randonnee_-_tactil_poles_-_tsl_outdoor_1Friends of Berczy Park is happy to promote this community activity organized by residents of Old York Towers, including their residents who participate in our weekly drop-in knitting group in the park and knit the wool scarves that decorate our dog fountain sculptures in wintertime.

If you enjoy walking, you will LOVE Nordic Pole Walking.  It not only is a great aerobic workout for your legs, lungs and heart, Pole Walking also provides upper body strength training while improving posture, balance and coordination…all in one easy to learn, easy to do, very social group activity

Learn more about Pole Walking at a freeinformation session:

DATE:                        Monday September 16

TIME:                         2:30-3:30pm

PLACE:                      Courtyard behind Old York Tower, 85 The Esplanade.

INSTRUCTOR:         Lorne Opler, former fitness instructor at OYT

Lorne is a certified Nordic Pole Walking instructor and has been teaching Nordic Pole Walking classes across the GTA since 2010

____________________________________________________

For those interested, a 10-week Pole Walking course will begin:

DATE:   Thursday Sept. 19 and every Thursday till Nov 21

TIME:    9:45-10:45am

PLACE: meet outside Old York Tower, 85 The Esplanade.

COST: $10/class ($100 for entire course, paid in fullat week one)

*NOTE: minimum class size:  10 students.  Poles can be purchased through Lorne at first class  ($80 for standard poles, $90 for travelling poles, which can fit in a travel bag)

For more info: email Lorne at: contactlorne@gmail.com

Phone:  (647) 860-4838  Website:   www.trainerlorne.com

Status of Jacob’s Ladder artwork/play structure in Berczy Park

2 Aug
IMG_1912

Bard in Berczy Park performers rehearse by ‘hanging laundry’ props from the Jacob’s Ladder public artwork

While the upcoming ‘Bard in Berczy Park’ production will be using the giant bronze hands of the “Jacob’s Ladder” public artwork as a backdrop for their upcoming performances of All’s Well That End’s Well – as seen in the adjacent image – some community members have asked about the status of this incomplete public artwork/kids play structure.

 
Here is an update from Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam’s Office:
The hands and ‘string’ (ie. thick rope) were meant to be one piece that were not meant to be ‘interactive’ (ie. you could not remove/change the position of the rope) but were meant to allow kids to play on it. When the rope was installed, following the bronze hands, it was found that the ropes did not sit properly, which could allow them to be disrupted. The rope was sent back to the manufacturer in Montreal, and installers need to install stronger connections to reinstall the rope, according to City staff. Staff also want to deal with drainage issues in the park, including the grassy hills and valley surrounding the Jacobs Ladder artwork, before reinstalling the rope. The Park is still under warranty, and Parks and the contractor are trying to settle issues regarding soil quality, which has resulted in some grass looking poor. City staff do not have an estimated date for the return of the rope, but assuming the drainage/soil issues are solved they could see it returned before the fall, contingent on a a quick resolution with the contractor.

IMG_0287

Artist testing rope lattice for Jacob’s Ladder artwork in fall 2018.

IMG_4530

The initial installation of Jacob’s Ladder art/play structure.

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