Archive | December, 2012

Big plans for Berczy in 2013: Park reno’ details and Summary of 8-80 Cities Report

13 Dec

8-80LogoIn November 2012, the non-profit group 8-80 Cities published a report on Berczy Park, sponsored by the St. Lawrence Market BIA and the Province of Ontario. The City of Toronto will use this Report to guide Berczy renovations, funded in part through fees from local property developers. Below, Friends of Berczy Park (FOBP) offers a ‘quick-read’ summary of the 62-page 8-80 Cities Report.

But first, “What’s next for Berczy Park?”

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The City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Dept. tells us:

  • They have reviewed the 8-80 Cities Report and will use it as a key input for Berczy reno’ plans.
  • Early 2013:  the City will issue a Request for Proposal to landscape design firms to develop park concepts that reflect the 8-80 Report.
  • 2013-2014: Park design planning: will include several public consultations, site studies and a health assessment of Berczy trees. A public art competition will source a permanent art installation for the park.

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  • 2014-2015: Park construction will occur, with the goal of completing work before the July 2015 Pan Am Games. Separately, City plans are also in the works to beautify Scott and Wellington Streets.

Next, “How can you get involved?”

  • Review our 8-80 Cities Report Summary below (or the full Report, via the link from our Nov 3rd blog update).
  • Share your opinions here on our blog, so your voice is heard by your neighbours and City officials. Or, write City officials directly, including Councillor Pam McConnell.
  • Join our FOBP email list and watch for emails about upcoming City/community meetings on Berczy plans. (write us at BerczyPark@gmail.com.)

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  • Important: To get news as fast as possible, click ‘Follow’ on the bottom right corner of our blog, to receive updates automatically without waiting for a periodic FOBP email.

SUMMARY OF 8-80 CITIES REPORT ON BERCZY PARK

Here’s the skinny version of the 62-page 8-80 Cities Report on Berczy Park:

On the current state of Berczy Park

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  • Most park users fall in the 35-50 age range. Children and seniors were underrepresented in the park when compared to their demographic presence in the neighbourhood.
  • Berczy lacks women, older adults and children. The absence of these ‘indicator species’ suggests that the public space is not working well currently.
  • With more than 58% of park users sitting in the park, there is a need for higher-quality and greater variety of seating.

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  • Berczy is currently under-utilized for activities other than sitting, such as play or exercise.
  • High levels of jay-walking suggest the need for more pedestrian crossings.
  • 72% of park users felt that Berczy Park was not well programmed.
  • 8-80 Cities noted that the efforts by Friends of Berczy Park (the children’s mural and seasonal tables & chairs by the fountain) are +ve steps to increase park usage.

Stakeholder suggestions

From the 8-80 Cities survey, focus group and interview participants, 315 specific park ideas were received. There were consistent trends:

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  • 55% want infrastructure and facilities improvement;
  • 24% seek more events, programs and activities for community members;
  • 12% want improved public communications in the park;
  • 6% desire safety improvements, including lighting;
  • 3% seek improved park accessibility for pedestrians and bicycles;
  • 14% of ideas related to park beautification and greening (plants, painting, signage, etc);

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  • 16% related to seating (benches, chairs, tables);
  • 7% requested children’s play equipment;
  • 7% desire park ‘animation’ (entertainment, music and arts programming);

8-80 Cities Report Recommendations:

  • The City, SLMBIA and community groups should create a year-round calendar of park programs, including entertainment and activities, both formal, like Buskerfest, and weekly or spontaneous, such as musicians, hot chocolate sales, yoga classes, etc.
  • Build upon 7 park ‘themes’ (see the numbered park map below):
  1. Park amenities, including greenery, the park water feature, lighting and paved surfaces;
  2. Gastronomic experience: Provide tables & chairs for eating. Expand sidewalks and pedestrianize Scott St. to create an outdoor café or food kiosks.
  3. The pause: Treasure green space, encourage more types of seating and add dog-friendly amenities;
  4. Where everyone meets: Expand the central fountain water feature to enable interactive play. Encourage year-round activities. Provide more flexible seating options by the fountain.
  5. Family living room: add play structures for children and adjacent seating, plus space for community activities, art and sport.
  6. Event and stage space: create stage space and encourage local arts groups. Improve ground surfaces for events (gravel and paving), add tourist wayfaring signage and event info.
  7. The boundless park: Expand park into the neighbourhood by adding safe pedestrian crossings, street paving to slow traffic, and expand sidewalks along Front and Wellington Streets.

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  • 8-80 Cities suggests community-based park planning that begins with temporary pilot projects to test an idea, followed by community evaluation and a revised, longer-duration pilot. Then, develop long-term plans and permanent capital projects.

Below, artist’s illustration of Berczy areas ‘2’, ‘3’ and ‘4’:

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Below, artist’s Illustration of Berczy areas ‘5’, ‘6’ and ‘7′:

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8-80 Cities key findings:

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  • Maintenance: City should improve short-term maintenance of Berczy, including repairs, cleaning, pest control and snow removal;
  • Increase park programming: weekly events, activities and entertainment.
  • New management method: Work with service providers including SLMBIA to implement park recommendations like movable seating, food kiosks and events.
  • Design multifunctional green space: In tiny Berczy, ensure that new park installations are multi-functional and flexible, for different park uses.

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  • Strengthen Friends of Berczy Park: to involve residents and community members in park plans.

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  • Public space network: Ensure Berczy plans are linked with other public space changes including adjacent streets, parks and flow of people among public spaces.

NOW, WHAT DO YOU THINK?  

Take a moment to leave a comment below – Share your thoughts on the 8-80 Cities Report or your own ideas to improve Berczy Park.

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