Archive | February, 2012

Public Forum participants discuss vision for Berczy Park

29 Feb

While images of lively public spaces from around the world flashed on the big screen, more than 40 community members spent their Monday evening in the subterranean Rainbow Cinema to begin transforming Berczy Park.

Hosted by the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood Business Improvement Area (BIA), the February 27th event was the first step towards remaking both Berczy Park and O’Keefe Laneway behind Massey Hall. Initiated by the BIA, with funding from the City and Province, the Berczy Park project is being lead by 8-80 Cities, a non-profit organization that has inspired pedestrian-friendly spaces from Melbourne, Australia to Guadalajara, Mexico.

With encouraging words from 8-80 Cities Executive Director Gil Penalosa, and City Councilors Pam McConnell and Kristin Wong-Tam, the audience heard the importance of improving Toronto’s overlooked public spaces to create a vibrant communities.

Explaining how the City has designated Berczy Park as a ‘signature park’ (to ensure developers don’t encroach on or over-shadow the pie-shaped sliver of greenery), Councilor McConnell noted that, “Berczy Park is a jewel that has not been cared for as jewelry should be kept.”

To kick-off the 8-80 Cities consulting process, urban and community issues speaker Jay Walljasper shared tips for creating great cities. Based on successful urban renewal projects, his insights included ways to encourage people to congregate and interact, by giving them well-designed spots to sit, walk or do something (like watching an impromptu tango show, gardening, or bread-making in an outdoor oven).

To wrap up the evening, Walljasper and Penalosa invited the audience, including representatives of Friends of Berczy Park, to list their priorities for Toronto’s public spaces. Responses ranged from organized public activities and art, to lush trees and lighting, as well as play structures and enclosed off-leash areas for dogs.

8-80 Cities organizers collected suggestion cards and invited Public Forum attendees to sign-up for future focus groups.  Details on timing to complete the project, or precise funding from the City, Province or private sponsors, are yet to be announced.

Public Forum – February 27, 2012

22 Feb

Join us at the Public Forum taking place on February 27, 2012 from 6:45 until 9:00 at the Rainbow Cinemas at 80 Front Street East.

Check out this link for full information: Make a Place for People

 

Survey says… your thoughts on Berczy Park

9 Feb

To help us reflect the voice of the community, and capture your priorities for future park improvements, Friends of Berczy Park (FOBP) maintains an online survey. While more than 130 individuals have already completed the survey, you can still take part (Please click here to complete the three-minute survey). Here are highlights of your thoughts on our park, as at February 9, 2012:

How often do you visit Berczy Park?

Survey respondents are frequent park visitors, with 40% making a daily visit and 39% doing so on a weekly basis.

What activities do you use the park for?

Most people make a quick visit to Berczy, with 84% walking through on their way to somewhere else and 34% walking their dog. Others enjoy longer park stays, with 51% taking part in festivals held in the park, or 29% who meet friends there.

How do you rate Berczy Park?

While 60% rate the park good to excellent, there’s room for improvement since 40% ranked the park from poor to fair.

What improvements could be made?

Improvements to landscaping and tree maintenance were top ranked at 68%, while 64% suggested keep the park cleaner. Improved seating and better lighting won 60% and 47%, respectively, while dedicated space for dogs and facilities for children garnered 37% and 34% support.

We live in a diverse neighbourhood

While 58% of survey respondents identified themselves as adults with no children, 26% were households with children. Pet lovers with a dog under 25lbs represented 22% of survey participants, while seniors reflected 18%.

Upcoming Public Forum

9 Feb

Friends of Berczy Park working group members attended the January 30th gathering of the St Lawrence Market Neighbourhood Business Improvement Association (BIA) to hear about community projects, including St James Park and the recently announced 8-80 Cities project.

As described in the 8-80 Cities newsletter (follow the link), 8-80 Cities is a non-profit organization that leads vibrant urban planning projects, by working with renowned international designers.  Berczy Park is one of eight Ontario sites chosen as an 8-80 Cities site, with sponsorship by the BIA, and funding from the City and Province. With plans to complete this project by 2015, things are just getting rolling and you can get involved at a Public Forum on Monday, February 27th (Watch for more details as they’re announced).

Friends of Berczy Park is collaborating on this innovative project, while we also work with community partners to bring about complementary, near term park enhancements.

What’s new with Friends of Berczy Park?

9 Feb

Since Friends of Berczy Park (FOBP) convened in December, we’ve been busy signing-up members, and it’s inspiring to see our neighbours’ devotion for this green space, as well as the growing interest in improving this treasured park.

Our working group has also been talking with public and private stakeholders to build support for park enhancements. In just a few weeks, we’ve met with representatives from: the St Lawrence Market Neighbourhood Business Improvement Association (BIA); the St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association (SLNA); The City of Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation Dept; and Concert Real Estate Corp (developers of The Berczy and the proposed 88 Scott project).

We thank these partner organizations for taking the time to meet us and for their genuine interest in creating livable, dynamic public spaces. We also anticipate a meeting with City Councillor Pam McConnell and her staff in the coming weeks to seek their input on FOBP’s goals.

While our group has a clear mandate (see below), we’re also surveying community members to solicit their comments and specific ideas for the park. See ‘Survey says…’ story adjacent for details on our online polling results.

How can you get involved?

  • If you haven’t already completed our survey, please click here to complete the three-minute poll.
  • If you know others who would like to be a Friend of Berczy Park, encourage them to write us at BerczyPark@gmail.com. We need every supporter we can get!
  • Finally, see ‘Upcoming Public Forum’ story adjacent to hear about a community meeting where you can directly share your thoughts on Berczy Park.

Thanks for following our FOBP blog. We welcome your comments.

{Friends of Berczy Park is a volunteer community group with the goal of inspiring and driving park improvements that balance the priorities of residents, visitors and businesses for this rapidly-evolving neighbourhood.  The group aims to enhance this public space to meet the diverse needs of all park users – including families, pet owners and seniors – and encourage inclusive, community-based stewardship of this heavily-used downtown park.}

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