Grange Park Toronto Canada

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Community Meeting Notes

Monday June 1st, 2009

The meeting was called to order at 7.10 pm by Phyllis Platt, who chaired the meeting.  Approximately 90 people were in attendance.  Cantonese and Mandarin interpretation was kindly arranged by the assistance of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation.  The agenda and notice of the meeting were translated courtesy of the University Settlement.

Chair’s Introduction

The Chair noted that this was the third community meeting about Grange Park and that the meeting agenda was set up to provide an opportunity for discussion about the revitalization project.

Welcome from Councillor Vaughan

Councillor Adam Vaughan welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming to the meeting.   He noted that the Grange Park revitalization project is providing a good opportunity for the local neighbourhood to become more actively involved in making the park stronger and more beautiful.  Councillor Vaughan gave a brief update on other issues and development proposals within the Grange community and how his office is working with the community.

Grange Community Association (GCA) Update:

GCA Chair Ralph Daley noted that at the December meeting the community approved the establishment of the Grange Community Association and had appointed an interim board.  The members who were present were introduced.  Issue leads for Developments (Max Allen), Inspections (Nick Schefter), and Parks (Debbie McGuinness) were introduced. Ralph reported that the GCA had reviewed many Committee of Adjustment applications, development proposals, Grange Park permit applications, film permits and pressing on for more inspections. The GCA had also met with MuchMusic about noise issues and had intervened with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission regarding the ULTRA application.  Ralph reminded those in attendance that the King Spadina Residents Association (KSRA) website is to be used to report noise violations.  A GCA website will soon be established.

Grange Park Advisory Committee (GPAC) Update:

GPAC co-chair Rupert Duchesne provided a brief recap of committee’s formation in May 2008 and its activity over the past year.

GPAC has established a plan for the Grange Park revitalization project that involves three phases:

GPAC’s focus over the past year has been on the first phase – to strengthen the natural environment of the park. Thanks to a grant from TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, PMA Landscape Architects were engaged in September 2008 to conduct an environmental audit on Grange Park. PMA delivered its final report in January 2009, which provided comprehensive information about the trees, soil, natural drainage, sunlight and groundcover on the park, as well as a conservation use plan to strengthen the natural environment of the park over all three phases of the project.

Ken Greenberg, urban planner and resource person working with GPAC, reviewed the conservation use plan recommendations of the PMA study for phase one:

GPAC has applied for a second grant to the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation to undertake these remedial initiatives.  (This grant has since been approved.)

New Protocol for Grange Park maintenance

Councillor Vaughan advised the meeting that City Council had approved a directive to develop an amendment to the 1911 agreement between the City and the AGO for the fundraising, design, construction and enhanced maintenance of Grange Park.  This new amendment must provide a mechanism for ongoing community involvement in park management. His office is now working with City Parks Forestry and Recreation (PFR) and the AGO to develop a new protocol for maintaining Grange Park.   The AGO has committed to raise funds for the revitalization project, including an endowment fund that would provide annual revenue for enhanced maintenance activities beyond PFR’s standard level of maintenance.  PFR would continue to be responsible for providing the standard level of maintenance.  A central element of enhanced maintenance is the creation of a staff position dedicated to Grange Park.

Criteria for Grange Park Permits

Councillor Vaughan noted there is a high demand for Grange Park as a location for special events, filming location, etc.  Some of these events do not take into consideration the potential damage that could happen to the park as a result of a high volume of participants, heavy vehicles or equipment, etc.  His office has been working with members of the community to develop additional criteria for Grange Park permits, in addition to those applied by City staff.  These draft criteria were circulated at the meeting for feedback.  The revised criteria will be considered at the next GPAC meeting. The sub-committee members include Councillor Vaughan, Marguerite Newell, Debbie McGuiness and Ceta Ramkhalawansingh.

Design Brief for Grange Park

GPAC has approved a design brief which will be used with the PMA study to guide the revitalization program. Ken Greenberg briefly reviewed the highlights of the brief which was circulated at the meeting (click here to see design brief.).  The overall goal of the design brief is to realize the park’s full potential while respecting its simple and elegant nature as a green oasis.  It must accommodate a great range of activities, both active and passive.  The PMA study identified a number of natural zones in the park– the great lawn in the middle for active play, for instance – that can be reinvigorated to maximize their beauty and versatility to make Grange Park a great neighbourhood and city park.

Communications Report

John Burns, a member of the GPAC Communications sub-committee, announced the Grange Park website  The website includes information on the park and GPAC activities, and has a feedback mechanism for neighbours.  In addition to the website, GPAC will circulate information through neighbourhood postal walks and e-mail updates.

Comments from meeting participants

There was general support and appreciation for the efforts being made through the GPAC initiative.  The following is a summary of questions asked and answered:

Q: Are there plans to limit activities on the great lawn?

A: No – the PMA study identified areas that naturally lend themselves to different types of activities.  We will build on the strengths of these areas to make them more useful and beautiful.

Q: What will happen to the wading pool?

A:  We do not have a specific design yet for the park, but we understand that waterplay is important to the neighbourhood.

Q: Could neighbours take part in maintenance and improvement activities in the park?

A:  City Parks and Recreation would look after the standard park maintenance. The enhanced maintenance activities could have the involvement of neighbours.

Q: Could the new criteria for park permits include advance notification for neighbours?

A: We are still developing the criteria.  We could post the permits on the Councillor Vaughan website, GPAC website and GCA website for neighbours’ advance information.

Q:  I’m concerned about the park becoming an “art zone”.  Are you replacing playground equipment with art?

A:   Any art coming into the park will be interactive – where people can play, climb, sit.   We will engage children in this process to ensure they can relate and play with the pieces selected.  Artistic elements would also be echoed in the park furniture – benches, lighting, pathways.  The goal is to make the park beautiful, serviceable and fun.

Q: I’m concerned that integrating 4 Grange Road into the park will make the play area too open to McCaul Street, causing a safety hazard for our children.

A: Safety will be primary concern as we incorporate 4 Grange Road into the park.

Q:  How will the park serve older children?

A:  Our intention is to create opportunities for multi-generational recreation, with play for all ages.

Next Steps

Rupert Duchesne confirmed that the AGO is committed to finding the funds for the major revitalization project, which will include redesigned furniture, pathways, etc.  Once funding is in place, GPAC will proceed with planning for the major revitalization project and will keep the community engaged step by step.

In his concluding remarks, Councillor Vaughan noted that the GPAC initiative is a great opportunity for the local community to have stewardship over Grange Park.  He stated that the GPAC project was unprecedented in its collaboration among the residents, the City and the AGO to revitalize Grange Park and keep it beautiful and resilient.