Dennis Hanagan –
Corktown’s five parks are in need of makeovers but because of their small sizes there are limitations in what can be done with them.
“The existing ones are getting old and tired. They aren’t meeting the needs of the outstanding community,” says Arthur Sinclair, who’s helping lead the work with the Corktown Residents and Business Association (CRBA) to bring them up to shape.
“In a Downtown core such as ours you’re not going to create new space so you can only improve the existing ones,” says Sinclair. “What do we do became a difficult question because everybody’s got different opinions.”
So far the group has engaged Liberty Village landscape consultants Thinc Design to study the situation. “They’re doing a really good job of inventorying everything and identifying what are the facilities available.”
If they can avoid duplicating items from one park to another then there’s greater opportunity to try to get the different things that different people want.
For the time being eyes are focused on Bright St. park, a tiny space the size of a neighbourhood coffee shop. It’s to be “refreshed” next spring, says Sinclair.
For kids, there could be a pirate ship to play on. The best that can be done for adults is to improve the seating, or what Sinclair calls “contemplative” areas.
Corktown’s other parks are Little Trinity, Shuter and Sumach, Sackville and Orphans’ Green on Power St.
Bringing the parks up to code has become a challenge, says Sinclair. One thing to be considered is the elevated level of parks safety regulations of the Canadian Standard Association. There have to be buffer zones around play equipment.
“Remember when you were a kid you used to swing as hard as you could and see how far you could jump? That’s essentially the buffer area. Essentially, if a kid falls off (equipment) they can’t hit anything.”
The other matter is accessibility. “Play structures have to be fully accessible. A mobility-challenged child needs to be able to get up to it. These two issues … do make redeveloping these parks challenging from a design standpoint and further more expensive,” notes Sinclair.
In general, for adults tennis courts were looked at, but they take up too much space. But a sturdy table tennis facility made of steel and concrete to take the beatings of the weather—and people—is a feasible idea, says Sinclair.
The CRBA will hold community consultation meetings to get public feedback on how to develop the parks when preliminary designs become available.