More ‘civil’ Corktown meeting discusses parks spending, party planning, bike lanes: parks ideas sought

Josh Bailie –

A new-look party, funding for parks, arguments over bike lanes—summer is officially here in Corktown.

Approximately two dozen people attended the Corktown Residents and Business Association’s (CRBA) monthly meeting on June 4. Arts and recreation were seasonably hot topics.

At the top of the evening, CRBA president Kara Isert announced that an estimated $800,000 will be available from councillor Pam McConnell’s office to refurbish Corktown’s shabbier parks in coming years.

The timing couldn’t be better for Isert, who voiced concern that Regent Park’s new green spaces will reflect poorly on adjacent Corktown’s frayed meadows.

“We have these other parks that are going to look so neglected in comparison to these amazing new ones,” she said. “We really want all of Corktown to be beautiful and have continuity.”

The moneys are funded from Section 37 benefits linked to land developments, Isert explained, which developers pay to the city in exchange for zoning changes.

Residents were quick to make suggestions for how the money can be spent: community gardens, improved lighting, underpasses and ashtray installations to curb littering. The CRBA, an official consultant for the renovations, will continue to accept suggestions from the public this summer.

While Corktown’s parks are getting all dolled up, its residents are, too.

“We’re calling it a soiree,” CRBA director Sandra Iskander started. “It’s a little more ambitious than we’ve done in the past.”

Iskander was announcing designs to refurbish something of her own: the CRBA arts and culture night. The reviews are in from the second-ever party in May and, from Iskander’s retelling, they were lukewarm.

“The feedback was the presentations and the slideshows are okay, but it’s really the performances that people love,” she said.

Iskander outlined her plans for a re-vamped evening: exclusively local performance in a dance studio setting. Lectures are gone, live is in. And lubrication too: Yes, the event will keep its cash bar.

An official announcement for the soiree is expected in the fall.

Locals spent the evening’s remainder discussing ongoing land developments in Corktown, the CRBA’s social media presence and issues with local crime. Compared to a meeting this writer attended last year, when ex-CRBA president Larry Webb had to introduce a code of conduct, the proceedings headed by a new band of directors were rather civil.

The fiercest debate came over bike lanes, with one resident, Branley, loving Sherbourne St.’s lanes and the other, James, hating them. The jury remains out. Out cycling, presumably.

Further Corktown updates can be found at or at the CRBA’s next meeting at Dominion on Queen (500 Queen St. East) on July 2.