Eric Morse –
Anniversary Park, in the triangle of land on the northwest corner of Parliament and Gerrard streets, is, to put it bluntly, a spooky place. It has a fountain, and a grassy patch, and trees. But the canopy is so low and dense that it projects the aura of a haunted grove from one of the danker Northern legends. Cut off from the north of Gerrard by a turning channel, it is very underutilized by the community except for the streetcar stop on the Parliament side.
Ward 28 Councillor Pam McConnell has had the space in mind for some while. “For me, Anniversary Park has been a long term concern,” McConnell told The Bulletin, “but there never seemed the right moment for all the elements to come together. A while back we got Green Force, the TV program, to redo the fountain. They were able to upgrade it but not really fix it. To my mind the turning channel on the north side doesn’t really help anyone.”
“I took it to the BIA, because I felt that it needed a community spearhead. I talked to Mitch Cohen of Daniels Corporation (lead developer of Regent Park) about it, and how it was orphaned from the community. As we were developing the third phase of Regent Park we continued the discussion, as it could be a legacy from the redevelopment.”
“We now have a BIA that is looking for a project and can serve as a community spearhead, and a developer, and a park that is an orphaned space…one of the impediments to closing off the turning channel would be if we had businesses that would be negatively affected, but about a year ago the Cabbagetown-Regent Park Museum bought the corner property and they are very enthusiastic about a remake. It would also benefit Genesis Place which has no front yard.”
McConnell doesn’t suggest a quick fix but a well-thought-out and sustainable proposal on the order of twelve to eighteen months. The Old Cabbagetown BIA’s executive director David Blackmore seems to feel it might take somewhat longer, in step with Daniels’ redevelopment of Regent Park Phase Three (three to four years).
“We’d like to see a gateway proposal incorporated in the planning, which might be mirrored by Daniels’ redevelopment on the southeast side,” says Blackmore. Blackmore is interested in eliminating the turning channel, and eventually envisions working with the museum and the north side businesses to animate the park as a public space. However he emphasized that this is only the beginning on the planning and consultation process, which he feels the BIA would like to see mirror the community involvement that took place around the redevelopment of Berczy Park at Church and Wellington. A public meeting has been called for Oct. 1 at the BIA office 237 Carlton St. at 6:30 p.m.