Walk in the Park

At 11am, June 16/12 at the High Point in North Toronto ARECA is holding a Walk. There are lots of walks these days. Common to all of them is the desire for Toronto residents to be informed, and to inform. The ARECA Walk will follow two streets that cross Yonge just north of Eglinton. They stretch from Avenue Road to Mount Pleasant, connecting open spaces at three local High Schools.

Our area has been identified as "parks deficient" since 1967. That's when Toronto Planners admitted there was no possibility of creating any new open space. Fortunately however, the Toronto Official Plan and the Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan (S 2.21b) both reference the need for community-based planning and, at every opportunity, the need to make improvements to the public realm with the creation of “Street Parks”. Funds to construct these Street Parks flow from the collection of Section 37 monies. The City demands S.37 revenue from developers in return for granting the additional heights and densities necessary to intensify the private realm.

That certainly has been happening in the Yonge-Eglinton area for some time now but the public realm is not improving at the same pace as the private realm. So, the ARECA Walk is in search of a park. We will stop at intersections, boulevards and pockets of open space in search of our first Street Park. The walk leader, who is a Planner, will make suggestions and provoke discussion. Following the ARECA Walk we will collect our thoughts and commit them to a Plan. The community will use it to inform planners, councillors and the OMB.

Since we first conceived of the idea to be proactive we have found positive support from at least one major developer in the YE area. We believe every developer will be interested to learn how the public realm in the neighbourhood of a condo building can be improved. It's a win-win situation. Just imagine, living in a Street Park at Yonge and Eglinton! We also believe the ARECA Walk is a first-of-its-kind and will be of interest to every community in Toronto. All too often, community associations have focused on the height and density aspects of new development applications and the public realm gets ignored. Sadly, Council makes decisions on such matters in a very political manner. Likewise, we have found the Toronto Planning Department to be under-staffed and under-funded. The ARECA Walk is the local community’s contribution to City Building in the face of these challenges.
Thanks to all who came on the walk.
A review will soon follow.