Corktown parks get 2014-2015 facelifts

Robin Careless –

The Corktown Residents & Business Association (CRBA) met on the June 3 to discuss the imminent park renewal project.

Councillor Pam McConnell was there to discuss the upcoming improvements, as well as share new information regarding the project. She reported that the city is in the early days of a master planning process and is looking at all the parks in the Corktown area, working on a way to revitalize them all cohesively instead of one at a time.  A consultant has been hired to assess and inventory the existing resources.

As it happens, the CRBA had actually done its own assessment of the area—which has given the city a leg up on the entire process.

“Parks and public spaces are an important part of the neighbourhood,” says CRBA president Kara Isert. “The CRBA is delighted about the parks renewal project. It is something we have been leading, working with our councillor and city parks staff to make sure that the small parks across Corktown get some love and attention.”

“The parks renewal is only one of several improvements that are happening around Corktown. It is partly being driven by the fact that the city collects funds from developers and other sources that are earmarked for parks improvements. We wanted to ensure that those funds are used to upgrade all the parks. We are very pleased that the project is looking at all the park spaces at once to create a Corktown parks master plan. This will ensure that desired amenities are distributed across the neighbourhood and that none of the parkettes are neglected.”

After some minor confusion, it was revealed that local Toronto design firm Tocher Heyblom Design Inc (thincdesign.ca) are going to be consulting on the parks. This is not to be confused with the US firm Thinc Design (thincdesign.com) who although they do have a confusingly similar web address, are in fact in no way involved with the project.

“thinc design is very excited to begin work on Corktown parks,” says Peter Heyblom, a founding partner of Tocher Heyblom Design.

“The character of this area is unmatched in Toronto and we look forward to working with both the stakeholders and public to create a vibrant plan for the neighbourhood’s system of parks and amenities. It is also an opportunity to gauge and improve these linked open spaces from Corktown to the emerging and changing neighbourhoods of West Don Lands and Regent Park. A very exciting prospect for us.”

“The Toronto thinc design has been involved in several local parks projects such as Underpass Park and Sherbourne Common,” notes Isert. “We are hopeful they will do a great job on the Corktown parks plan!”

The entire process is an ongoing one and is still very much in its early days.

One of the first projects for this year will be the Bright St. playground. In the next few weeks, the city is holding focused workshop meetings with Bright St. residents, as well as the greater Corktown residents in general, with reconstruction to be completed this year.

For the parks needing larger reconstructions, such as little Trinity, the consultant will begin more detailed design work based on their assessment with improvements scheduled to begin next year.

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