Public gathers to set Berczy vision

24 Oct

IMG_1436More than 50 members of the public joined City officials and park designers for the first meeting on the Berczy revitalization on October 23rd.

Participants at the meeting, held at the North St. Lawrence Market, heard overarching comments from Claude Cormier and Marc Halle, of Claude Cormier et Associés, the design firm selected for the project, known for their past work on Sugar Beach, HTO Park and  other major commissions.

Cormier and Halle described the park’s evolution since its construction in the 1970s, and the neighbourhood transformation from an office district to a residential community. They detailed broad principles for effective parks and some of the current pros and cons with present day Berczy.

Among criticisms of the 4,100 sq. metre park, an arborist study has found that just eight of 81 trees in the park are considered healthy enough to preserve due to poor planting methods applied in the past which impaired their root structures. Halle advised that they plan to use the latest technology in deep soil planters (employed at Sugar Beach) to help new Berczy trees grow healthy.

During the Q&A session, the designers and Councillor Pam McConnell fielded audience questions on the impact of nearby developments and the source of renovation funds. Parks official Jennifer Tharp explained that Berczy changes will be paid from funds collected from local developers, exceeding $3 million, with a possible additional $200,000 for public art installations.

IMG_1435Audience members also asked the planners to carefully consider the safety of women and children, improve accessibility, capture the neighbourhood’s historic significance and ensure abundant greenery. One attendee urged the City to better plan for ongoing park maintenance costs to ensure that Berczy will not be left to decline upon project completion.

To conclude the evening, attendees took part in group discussions to pinpoint current likes & dislikes in the park, and draft vision statements to reflect their hopes for Berczy.  While viewpoints were diverse, the audience agreed with one wisecracking participant who stated, “In 2015, I hope that Berczy will be COMPLETED!”

Visit the official Berczy park project site for additional notes on the forum. The City will hold more public consultations in late 2013 and early 2014.  For a timeline of the Park renovation, see our Sept 19 blog update below.

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