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Toronto Parks

I started a Toronto Parks thread and spent three or four months photographing them a few years ago, but I only covered much of the downtown area. I'm pretty sure it's under the Architecture & Urban Design forum.

Edit: Oops, I jumped the gun! As junctionist noted, you can see what I started here with lots of photos - http://urbantoronto.ca/forum/showthread.php/9123-Toronto-Parks
We also have this thread here about Park and Public Spaces design in Toronto: http://urbantoronto.ca/forum/showthread.php/20471-Public-Square-and-New-Park-Design-in-Toronto

I guess that's why I couldn't find one, my thinking was that this could eventually be a place to talk about current "issues" with parks, and that being under Toronto Issues made sense. That said, I would be open to merging this thread with an existing one if there was such a desire, thoughts?
 
For well over 2 years, I lived at the south-east entrance of Col. Samuel Smith Park.

Wonderful area to go walking, kayaking, cycling, etc.

Plus, it's home to probably the best Australian Rules Football pitch in the City of Toronto.
 
Sorry to bump this old thread but I have a question about Parks, in general.

Can anyone find a current listing of TIER ONE City parks in Toronto. According to an old post (see below) there are 8 of them but the link is dead and the City site is not easy to search!

173927
 
@Northern Light is it just me or does the city mow the parks way too frequently? It seems like every summer they iron the parks maniacally even when the grass is dry and practically flat. I imagine one reason they do it so often is to scare away snakes and other bitey critters?
 
@Northern Light is it just me or does the city mow the parks way too frequently? It seems like every summer they iron the parks maniacally even when the grass is dry and practically flat. I imagine one reason they do it so often is to scare away snakes and other bitey critters?

Do I think the manner and timing of mowing as well as what is mowed is all rather silly? Yes.

Do snakes enter into it? Not really.

Here's how it works:

There is a schedule, it doesn't change much year to year except when new parks with mow-able grass come on stream.

The mow crews are now district-wide (not homers to a particular park)

There isn't supposed to be any room for editorial judgement (what gets mowed), variations year to year are generally accidents/misunderstandings.

Yes, the mower blade is set too low. (should be set at 10cm+)

This is counter productive and makes a lot of the parching you see more common.

Grass grown longer does two things, it promotes root growth and energy storage to keep itself healthy during a drought, but it also shades the ground a bit reducing the rate at which it heats and dries out.

The blades, other than habit, are set low, because in late spring growth is aggressive and fast, and there are no extra crews to come back more often; and because sports fields often require it shorter.

Those are not unreasonable. What is unreasonable is not resetting the blade height for non-sports field areas; and for any cutting done after Canada Day when growth slows down considerably.

But that is not the way the City thinks, sigh.

Also mow crews are fully dedicated to that purpose to the largest degree.

25 years ago, mowing was more of a general parks operations thing with workers trained to edge, weed, fix/paint benches and take out the trash.

Today, flower beds are maintained by horticulture not general parks operations, garbage bins are done by waste management, not parks; and only 'carpentry' fixes benches.

In other words, the mow crews don't have anything else to do when the grass is short enough.

***

That aside, there are areas that are mowed in the valleys, for no particular reason, except that that they always were. Likewise in the Table-Top (flat) parks where the are no sports fields or flowers or picnic tables, just cause.

It would be a wise financial move as well as environmentally responsible to return more of the unused space to nature.

If the City needs to cut budget, I'd rather they didn't take any more from Parks; but I'd also like to see Parks use its money more wisely, it could probably cut the mowing budget by 20% without offending anyone.
 
Do I think the manner and timing of mowing as well as what is mowed is all rather silly? Yes.

Do snakes enter into it? Not really.

Here's how it works:

There is a schedule, it doesn't change much year to year except when new parks with mow-able grass come on stream.

The mow crews are now district-wide (not homers to a particular park)

There isn't supposed to be any room for editorial judgement (what gets mowed), variations year to year are generally accidents/misunderstandings.

Yes, the mower blade is set too low. (should be set at 10cm+)

This is counter productive and makes a lot of the parching you see more common.

Grass grown longer does two things, it promotes root growth and energy storage to keep itself healthy during a drought, but it also shades the ground a bit reducing the rate at which it heats and dries out.

The blades, other than habit, are set low, because in late spring growth is aggressive and fast, and there are no extra crews to come back more often; and because sports fields often require it shorter.

Those are not unreasonable. What is unreasonable is not resetting the blade height for non-sports field areas; and for any cutting done after Canada Day when growth slows down considerably.

But that is not the way the City thinks, sigh.

Also mow crews are fully dedicated to that purpose to the largest degree.

25 years ago, mowing was more of a general parks operations thing with workers trained to edge, weed, fix/paint benches and take out the trash.

Today, flower beds are maintained by horticulture not general parks operations, garbage bins are done by waste management, not parks; and only 'carpentry' fixes benches.

In other words, the mow crews don't have anything else to do when the grass is short enough.

***

That aside, there are areas that are mowed in the valleys, for no particular reason, except that that they always were. Likewise in the Table-Top (flat) parks where the are no sports fields or flowers or picnic tables, just cause.

It would be a wise financial move as well as environmentally responsible to return more of the unused space to nature.

If the City needs to cut budget, I'd rather they didn't take any more from Parks; but I'd also like to see Parks use its money more wisely, it could probably cut the mowing budget by 20% without offending anyone.
Was wondering if you had an opinion on which system works better? I'm inclined to go by the team per park where there would be responsibility over the park vs the current centralized model.
 
Was wondering if you had an opinion on which system works better? I'm inclined to go by the team per park where there would be responsibility over the park vs the current centralized model.

I strongly prefer a model of 'ownership' of problems, and staff who learn diversified skills and can fix a range of problems.

Obviously smaller parks are not going to have a crew devoted only to them (there are close to 1,500 parks now).

But the idea that every district park has its own home crew, based there, and they satellite out (hub and spoke) to the other parks in there area works for me.

Crew should learn to mow, edge, prune, litter-pick, help distressed person, maintain flower beds, mulch/water trees, paint/repair benches/tables etc.,

It makes for a more interesting job, a better paying job (reflecting skill set); and more motivated staff who can rightly claim a sense of pride in their space.

Nothing wrong w/having 'expert' divisions/specialty staff to deal w/complex matters.

But its great if you need those less, it decomplicates/expedites repairs.
 
While in school, I remember learning about cases outside of Toronto where some parks were under a public-private management structure, through a Conservancy/Stewardship/Friends-of-the-Park group.


See page 23 for a Philadelphia case study.

I'm also aware of another case in Houston's award-winning Levy Park where a local redevelopment authority undertaking a masterplan condo development near to the park, set up a Park Conservancy group to handle the maintenance, operation, and programming of the public park, and supports itself by park proceeds (from programming and sub-leasing commercial activity). Under the stewardship of the Conservancy group, the park's visitors grew from 75 visitors per week to 5,000-10,000 visitors per week [source].

I wonder if such arrangements can lead to better park space results as the staff that manage them feel greater sense of "ownership" over the space, compared to a City Parks department.
 
While in school, I remember learning about cases outside of Toronto where some parks were under a public-private management structure, through a Conservancy/Stewardship/Friends-of-the-Park group.


See page 23 for a Philadelphia case study.

I'm also aware of another case in Houston's award-winning Levy Park where a local redevelopment authority undertaking a masterplan condo development near to the park, set up a Park Conservancy group to handle the maintenance, operation, and programming of the public park, and supports itself by park proceeds (from programming and sub-leasing commercial activity). Under the stewardship of the Conservancy group, the park's visitors grew from 75 visitors per week to 5,000-10,000 visitors per week [source].

I wonder if such arrangements can lead to better park space results as the staff that manage them feel greater sense of "ownership" over the space, compared to a City Parks department.

Central Park in NYC has a Conservancy.

In Toronto we don't really have a comparable model up and running.

The most serious efforts would be 'The Bentway' and Toronto Botanical Garden.

TBG would have liked full-on independent management of its area; the City fought that hard; and a compromise was made.

I think 'ownership' use to exist under the City model and could again.

A Conservancy is a legit option for certain spaces.

But isn't a prerequisite.

Keep in mind Toronto's park managers (often) used to live in the parks.

See the Gardener's Cottage at Kew Beach.

I'm not suggesting we throw up houses for parks staff in the parks.

But a sense of ownership by staff and pride can be achieved within a City model.
 
Was wondering if you had an opinion on which system works better? I'm inclined to go by the team per park where there would be responsibility over the park vs the current centralized model.
There are actually teams of GARDNERS who seem to look after parks by area. In St Lawrence we have quite a few parks and I see th e same gardeners moving from one to the other (and some have been neighbourhood fixtures for years). Mowing (and =the minimal snow clearing they do) is another thing as the City clearly does not have one mowing machine (or snow plough) per park and the mowing (ploughing) crews do seem to be less stable. Many places in the City (eg. the verges of the Martin Goodman trail) are actually mowed by external contractors.
 
There are actually teams of GARDNERS who seem to look after parks by area. In St Lawrence we have quite a few parks and I see th e same gardeners moving from one to the other (and some have been neighbourhood fixtures for years). Mowing (and =the minimal snow clearing they do) is another thing as the City clearly does not have one mowing machine (or snow plough) per park and the mowing (ploughing) crews do seem to be less stable. Many places in the City (eg. the verges of the Martin Goodman trail) are actually mowed by external contractors.

Horticulture (flowers) is a relatively small unit by City standards.

So you tend to get that association more; because there are also relatively few maintained flower beds.

There are obviously many more lawns to mow, waste receptacles to empty, paths to plow etc.

Waste is now largely handled by waste management.
 
Horticulture (flowers) is a relatively small unit by City standards.

So you tend to get that association more; because there are also relatively few maintained flower beds.

There are obviously many more lawns to mow, waste receptacles to empty, paths to plow etc.

Waste is now largely handled by waste management.
No wonder why there aren't many topiaries in Toronto parks.
 
I was stranded for a few hours in an area of Etobicoke today I’m not familiar with so I checked out a few parks.

Cloverdale Park had some merit but nearby Silverhill Park was a head scratcher. What kind of a path is this? And what exactly is the open space for? It’s neither wild nor manicured enough to be serviceable as a play or sports field.
AC7C9935-F205-4A88-870A-FE1D01ADBD2D.jpeg
 

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