Archive | March, 2014

Check out the new Berczy Park!

11 Mar

At a public meeting on March 11, 2014, the City Parks Dept. and the landscape design team Claude Cormier et Associes presented the final design for the Berczy Park revitalization.  After three public consultations, and final public comments now received , the park renovation will go to tender, with construction scheduled to begin in September 2014, for completion by summer 2015.

Check out these images of the new park and see a list of park features and a summary of comments from the public meeting below.

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With approximately 60 members of the public convening at St Lawrence Hall, Councillor Pam McConnell greeted attendees and applauded the designers, working committee and the public for helping revamp an iconic park that has among the most diverse user groups of any public space in Toronto.

Claude Cormier and Marc Halle of Cormier et Associes presented the final park design, noting that in previous public consultations, 78% of the public preferred the contemporary/open park design over the classic/enclosed park concepts; 67% did not want trees removed that obstructed park artworks like the Flatiron Bldg mural; 91% were in favour of a green activity area for kids/families; and 63% were in favour of a designated on-leash dog area.

As a result, the final park design includes:

  • Diagonal paths dissect the park from all corners, converging at the fountain terrace.
  • The fountain is maintained, but is slightly larger with a well-lit, 12.5 metre basin, two tiers topping 3.6 metres, and decorative bronze dog sculptures that spray water around and into the fountain. Visitors can sit on the fountain ledge and a narrow pet water trough will encircle the fountain, with fresh drinking water, separated from fountain water.
  • The large central terrace will have a dramatic granite patterned paver surface, shade trees, colourful movable furniture and two small stage platforms.
  • The western green activity area will have low mound-like hills with a bold, child-friendly public artwork (to be developed through a City Culture Dept selection process), funded by the developers of the 88 Scott St.condominium. For safety the area will be largely surrounded by long benches or low shrubs.
  • Scott Street calming: As done on nearby Market St, Scott Street will be reworked to better complement the adjacent park. Th street will be narrowed to 6 metres, sidewalks and benches will be improved, curbs will be flattened to encourage occasional pedestrianization or street events. Scott Street changes will occur later, following the Berczy reno in 2015.
  • Trees will include a double row of London Plane trees along Front St, a double row of Horsechestnut or Elm trees alongWellington, and Red Oak trees bordering Scott St. Trees will benefit from ‘silva cell’ technology. Proven effective at nearby Sugar Beach, these tree root systems provide ample room for tree roots and water collection, to enable trees to grow faster and stay healthy.
  • Lighting would be added through the park, using the Old Town Toronto style posts, improved mural lighting and low bollard lighting in the mural garden.
  • Artwork: The Derek Bassant mural on the Flatiron Bldg would be maintained (Encrouching trees will be trimmed and one mature tree will be felled to improve the sight lines). The small Berczy family sculpture will be relocated to the south area adjacent to the mural garden.  As mentioned above, a new public artwork would be added, to encourage public interaction/ children’s play in the western activity area.
  • A mural garden, (a flexible, multi-use area below the Flatiron Bldg) will include perennial planting beds on three sides, a raised pea gravel surface terrace suited for on-leash dog play and socialization, as well as quiet visitor reflection of the Derek Bassant mural. The area will include a hose for clean-up of pet waste  and ideally divert some of the current dog traffic from other areas of the park.
  • A community bulletin board/tourist signage and park electrical board will be placed in the southwest park corner, and light posts throughout the park will be able to accommodate special event GFI lighting, sound and power.

Public Meeting comments:

While meeting attendees voiced their overwhelming support for the park design, some participants raised questions about various park details, including accessibility for disabled persons, and challenged the design team’s focus on dog accent sculptures, rather than emphasizing the neighbourhood’s history or arts scene. The City assured the audience that the park design is vastly accessible and a City Accessibility Committee will  fine-tune design details.

Claude Cormier also defended the choice of dog accent sculptures, since they reflect the new and evolving character of the neighbourhood. He affirmed that the park includes many elements that nod to local history,  including the classic fountain, granite terrace, lighting and flora choices. The designer also emphasized that the dog theme will be a beacon for visitors and help create ‘human theatre,’ as park goers interact with the fountain and the sculptures.

The majority of public comments were directed to the City regarding park maintenance, post-renovation. Speakers emphasized the need for adequate City park maintenance budgets and regular upkeep to ensure the new Berczy maintains its fresh lustre for years to come.

Friends of Berczy Park is very pleased with the final park design and its accommodation of the many park stakeholders, including families, pet-owners, seniors, visitors and the business community. We will continue to work with the City, Parks Dept, the BIA and other groups to shepherd outstanding park design issues, plan interim park events for summer 2014, and support park care and maintenance following the park re-opening in 2015.

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