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  • Blending public and private space at Winchester Park - Spacing Toronto
    I think public parks set amidst several housing complexes that also have their own private spaces that are all connected by various internal walkways that are I think private One of the two small parkettes that make up Winchester Square Park south of the bigger park contains some raised bed gardens and is very clearly a public park But the second space is a less defined green space that seems more like a private yard for the adjacent apartment building whose towering blank face rises above the park begging to have a mural painted on it There s even a small garden that borders the park with a green picket fence but is I think a private garden of the building You can follow the pathway in these parks to get to a walkway alley that leads up the centre of the block and connects you to two other parks but also acts as the main path between several housing complexes including the Hugh Garner Housing Co op Here is where things get a little bit murkier as it becomes less clear what is private and what is public space There are a number of variously sized pathways leading off in differeent directions including some very narrow ones that border a park Sometimes a fence separates two communal open spaces one private right and one public left so there s no room for confusion The largest green space in this area Winchester Park is just a big blank grassy space with a dirt running track around it It s bordered by Ontario Street which ceases to be a street and becomes a pedestrian walkway instead To further complicate the public private spaces matter a short walk away there is a really lush and beautiful garden space that is part of a nearby school There is a fence around it with a gate that was open but it wasn t clear whether anyone could just walk in and enjoy the garden so I stood outside the fence and took pictures which maybe is even more creepy than just walking into the space but there you go All of this is interesting in the context of another space just north of Winchester Park St James Town Here private high rise housing developments are clustered together around a meandering system of roadways parking lots and open spaces both private and public It s almost impossible to tell which is which In fact the lack of distinction between private and public open space is one of the points people now criticize about older housing developments of this kind When a space seems neither public nor private who takes care of it How do you use it In the end the experience of walking the block around Winchester Park is not uncomfortable it s actually quite pleasant with all the pedestrian walkways going everywhere but there are a few moments where you think to yourself am I supposed to be walking here Where does this

    Original URL path: http://spacing.ca/toronto/2015/06/11/blending-public-private-space-winchester-park/ (2015-11-16)
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  • PARKS CRISIS conclusion: 10 ideas to help solve Toronto's parks acquisition crisis - Spacing Toronto
    endowment fund that invests a portion of all parkland levies charged to developers income from the fund will be used exclusively to off set incremental operational expenses associated with new park creation Create a strategic investment plan including short medium and long term targets for parks and open spaces in the City of Toronto based on variables such as parkland provision intensification and the presence of other community amenities Develop tools that allow city staff to evaluate both quantitatively and qualitatively park and open space usage and then rely on those metrics to guide future planning and investment decisions Establish an annual City of Toronto Open Space report that details in one document parkland levy revenue parkland spending on both improvements and acquisitions reserve fund balances park usage and milestones outlining how all investments are linked to the city s strategic public space objectives Develop a planning and land banking strategy designed to acquire property for parks open spaces in areas outside the core and other high growth zones that are projected to experience spill over intensification in the coming years Create an integrated public space planning team outside Parks Forestry and Recreation that is responsible for both POPS privately owned public space and parkland acquisition in high growth and anticipated high growth areas Conduct a detailed cost benefit evaluation of Green P lots and city owned assets in high and moderate growth areas to determine whether these properties could be converted to open space or re developed to allow for a revenue stream that supports open space e g the below grade parking at Yonge Dundas Square Allocate Section 42 funds to make much needed public space improvements to David Pecaut Square and properly integrate it into the John Street Cultural Corridor Petition the province to establish a mechanism that allows the city under certain circumstances to pay above fair market value on strategic public space acquisitions photo by Eric Sehr Part 1 All built up but no place to grow Part 2 Where the money flows Part 3 The perils of cash in lieu Part 3 sidebar Section 42 explained Part 4 The tale of two parks Part 5 The system worked slowly for a west end park Part 6 Are privately owned public spaces the answer to parks deficit Subscribe to Mag Share Post Tweet Post Buy Merch andise Related Posts PARKS IN CRISIS part 3 The perils of cash in lieu PARKS IN CRISIS part 1 All built up and no place to go PARKS IN CRISIS sidebar How Section 42 works PARKS IN CRISIS part 2 How the money flows Tweet More posts by John Lorinc 5 comments Neither the author nor Spacing necessarily agrees with posted comments Spacing reserves the right to edit or delete comments entirely See our Comment Policy Barry Lipton 7 months ago John Did you know that the 205 acres that the Toronto Island Airport sits on is zoned Parkland Porter pays NO rent for the use of this valuable

    Original URL path: http://spacing.ca/toronto/2015/04/22/parks-crisis-conclusion-10-ideas-solve-torontos-parks-acquisition-crisis/ (2015-11-16)
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  • PARKS IN CRISIS part 5: The system worked (slowly) for a west end park - Spacing Toronto
    linseed oil administrative office a charming brick building with deco style features that once operated as an after hours speakeasy into a fieldhouse After it opened in 2008 the City of Toronto and the Wabash Building Society were awarded Canadian Urban Institute s Brownie Award for successfully converting a brownfield site for community use The City directed Section 37 funds from nearby loft development projects to improve the fieldhouse now in constant use by community groups This project provided the Wabash Building Society with a track record when it came time to tackle the next stage of their park reno plan It also taught them the value of taking what long time members call baby steps In 2009 the WBS set out to raise the 405 000 needed to transform land that had once held the linseed company s grain elevator into a 21 27 metre square that can be used for local events such as dances and outdoor films as well as the farmer s market When this new town square was officially opened last summer its funding story could be seen clearly on the banner thanking donors somewhere close 200 names the culmination of five years of bake sales and funds donated in memory of loved ones who had themselves loved the park The largest sum 155 000 came from City of Toronto capital funding Other contributions included 125 000 from a Live Green grant 61 000 from the Wabash Building Society s Reserve Fund 16 000 from community fundraising and the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation and 48 000 from the Section 42 parkland fund How did the Wabash Building Society manage to score that cash Sorauren Park activists praise their elected representatives especially Ward 14 councillor Perks for paving a pragmatic and principled way to City Hall He s been a brick said neighbourhood realtor Chander Chaddah who has been on the Wabash Building Society board since its inception Perks in turn credits former Ward 27 councillor Kyle Rae for teaching him how to successfully negotiate access to municipal funding on behalf of constituents Strategic civic panhandling Win win win has been the WBS mantra for what s now going on a decade It s been a bit of a process Chaddah said but an enjoyable and happy process Yet the strategic panhandling continues Sorauren Park Town Square has been the recipient of 10 000 from the TD Bank s Friends of the Environment foundation money used to purchase and plant 48 new trees and shrubs which will be cared for by community volunteers over the next two years According to Rob Richardson manager of Toronto s PFR Partnership Development office Sorauren Park activists recently raised an additional 11 400 for six new benches for the town square In addition Metrolinx which will soon operate UP Express along the park s eastern boundary provided 1 000 for 12 bike rings The next community fundraising phase is aimed at building a trellis on one side of the

    Original URL path: http://spacing.ca/toronto/2015/04/17/parks-crisis-wabash-park-system-actually-worked/ (2015-11-16)
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  • PARKS IN CRISIS part 4: A tale of two parks - Spacing Toronto
    2013 But money issues reared up again this time over the cost of removing the existing structures on the site as well as a simmering legal dispute between the City and Canderel over waterproofing repairs to the ceiling of the city owned garage beneath the park As MBTW s lead architect Christine Abe warned PFR in an August 2013 memo the 3 million revitalization budget will have to soak up the cost of demolishing or burying existing structures What s more the scaled back landscaping plan ends abruptly at a line well short of the diagonal walk way from College and Bay leaving a scrubby rectangular space in the north end of the park Two other areas within the overall space are excluded altogether from the design The project is supposed to be concluded later this year although there s little evidence that the construction process has even begun The completion date is a moving target due to Canderel s delays says area councilor Kristyn Wong Tam It is now 2015 We have spent close to four years negotiating with the various stakeholders The budget is still not enough to do what we want Asked why the city didn t use Section 42 funding she cites the funds required to make 11 Wellesley happen We have to be very strategic about how we deploy Section 42 local park improvement funds 819 Sheppard School sites and opaque land deals In 2010 city officials revealed they intended to spend 7 5 million on a 2 5 ha school property near Sheppard and Wilson Heights that had been deemed surplus by the Toronto District School Board It would become Toronto s single costliest park purchase in both size and price in recent years The patch of green space behind 819 Sheppard West long used as a school playing field is in a district deemed to rank second lowest on the city s five point scale for parkland provision Though surrounded by single family homes it is also situated near the mid rise condos going up along Sheppard What s more the deal is one of a series of moves by the city to acquire surplus school properties Yet according to documents obtained by Spacing it appears the city had to drastically over spend to consummate a public private partnership scheme that remains unresolved many years after it was initially disclosed to the public Initially the city wanted to buy 1 5 ha on the southern portion of the site and sought to partner with The Toronto Heschel School a fast growing Jewish parochial academy that wanted the school building on the northern portion The Toronto District School Board had declared the school surplus Under the proposed agreement the city would buy the entire site and the private school would buy back the building on the northern half leaving the city with new community park space on the rest of the large tract In a September 2009 email acquired by Spacing the city estimated

    Original URL path: http://spacing.ca/toronto/2015/04/16/parks-crisis-part-4-tale-two-parks/ (2015-11-16)
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  • PARKS IN CRISIS part 3: The perils of cash-in-lieu - Spacing Toronto
    aren t experiencing population growth or speculative pressure But when it comes to buying land the city despite its large reserves simply can t compete in areas facing sky rocketing real estate values It s a really serious problem observes Willowdale councillor John Filion whose ward includes both high density towers and low rise single family homes The city takes a very short sighted approach and will certainly pay the price in the years to come In his view council should establish special parks reserve funds specifically for high growth nodes and ensure that 100 of the park levy revenue is spent in those areas The money should stay in the area where it s generated top photo by Jason Paris Part 1 All built up but no place to grow Part 2 Where the money flows Part 3 The perils of cash in lieu Part 3 sidebar Section 42 explained Part 4 The tale of two parks Part 5 The system worked slowly for a west end park Part 6 Are privately owned public spaces the answer to parks deficit Subscribe to Mag Share Post Tweet Post Buy Merch andise Related Posts PARKS IN CRISIS sidebar How Section 42 works PARKS CRISIS conclusion 10 ideas to help solve Toronto s parks acquisition crisis PARKS IN CRISIS part 1 All built up and no place to go PARKS IN CRISIS part 2 How the money flows Tweet More posts by John Lorinc 8 comments Neither the author nor Spacing necessarily agrees with posted comments Spacing reserves the right to edit or delete comments entirely See our Comment Policy Jason Paris JasonParis 7 months ago Nice to see some investigative journalism in Spacing I pretty much love everything Spacing does already but this is a nice addition Trisha 7 months ago This series of articles could do a better job at providing what area s are actually in need of new parks And what the criteria for need actually is City s are meant to get dense and grow around their existing parks Parkland isn t something that s meant to grow and grow and grow as you urbanize 11 Wellesley is one great example of this bizarre planning policy From the tone of the article you would think the area has no other parkland nearby But in reality Queen s Park is a two minute walk away There was no need for a new park in this area John Lorinc 7 months ago Trish on day one there s a map which is part of the City s official plan and is theoretically used to guide investment that ranks Toronto neighbourhoods by parkland per 1000 residents If you look at the map which was published in 2002 the core areas are all deemed to be short on public open space according to a parkland provision metric that the city uses for planning purposes Since then as the series has shown and as a few minutes of strolling around downtown looking

    Original URL path: http://spacing.ca/toronto/2015/04/15/parks-crisis-perils-cash-lieu/ (2015-11-16)
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  • PARKS IN CRISIS sidebar: How Section 42 works - Spacing Toronto
    general aim is for the city to ask developers to cleave off a portion of their properties for open spaces instead of expropriating land Section 42 works for subdivisions where it s possible for a developer to hive off surplus land But it s not suited to high rise projects on small sites with little space to spare In fact new rules approved in 2008 allow the city to take cash instead of land if council deemed a development site to be unsuitable for a park e g a downtown warehouse that s being redeveloped as high rise with the same footprint In practice this policy has meant that the local councilor can exercise a high degree of discretion as to whether developers are asked to hand over land or money Council at the same time re jigged the formula for collecting the money creating an alternate rate for conveyances of park land According to the city the system today works something like this The basic parkland dedication requirements are 2 of the site for commercial or industrial uses and 5 of the site for all other uses including residential uses If the property is located in a Parkland Acquisition Priority Area then it is subject to an Alternative Parkland Dedication Rate of 0 4 hectares per 300 dwellings units The cash collected from parks levies are then divvied into five pots and held in reserve funds In practice the establishment of a park may draw on money from these various reserve funds as well as other sources including private donations Section 37 funds and land dedications Part 1 All built up but no place to grow Part 2 Where the money flows Part 3 The perils of cash in lieu Part 3 sidebar Section 42 explained Part 4 The

    Original URL path: http://spacing.ca/toronto/2015/04/15/parks-crisis-sidebar-section-42-works/ (2015-11-16)
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  • Social media conditioning — how Toronto is embracing new outreach tools - Spacing Toronto
    videos for Youtube or running a Twitter account takes time after all Still the way the City s social media accounts are used shows that they fill a need They form a large body of information and knowledge about the city that has far fewer physical barriers to access than say a trip to City Hall It s also worth noting that while the social media material is in English the City uses Google Translate for its website and social media platforms As with other communication channels there are budget considerations that factor in to the City s ability to translate messages and materials into the various languages spoken by Toronto residents Forte says For instance there s 311Toronto which provides information about common problems like flooding but also responds to queries and problems tweeted to it by people around Toronto Report flooded road and sidewalk problems to 311 Basement flooding prevention http t co auNMwPPEAA 311 Toronto 311Toronto April 9 2015 NoFlyDawn Thank you for reporting this The parks supervisor has been made aware ga 311 Toronto 311Toronto May 20 2015 On Youtube the City s main page houses videos like this one demonstrating the efficacy of Green Bin 2 0 Raccoon Nation has vowed trouble That video garnered 120 000 views That number is unusually high for a video by the City but a few thousand views over a longer period of time isn t uncommon Although Forte says those policies are mostly a gathering of existing policies and legislation they represent a new direction for the City The Strategic Communications staff member also oversees the City s email updates and is a co ordinating force behind the new City of Toronto website When she was hired the current website had become a bit of a digital landfill Forte says The new website won t be fully implemented until around two years from now by the end of 2017 She s also got a number of shorter term projects on the go that will make changes to the existing website a refresh of the central social media page reviewing the levels of access that inform City social media guidelines and working on a QR code pilot Another aspect of Forte s job is slowly changing as new people are hired at City Hall Digital capacities are sort of worked into new hires she says Although Forte was only hired in 2013 City Council started talking about coordinating their burgeoning digital assets in 2011 The conversation appearing in General Management Committee minutes was sparked by Councillor Paul Ainslie Ward 43 Scarborough East The current chair of the General Management Committee GMC and former Ford insider was also the GMC chair between 2010 and early 2012 He was re appointed to the position after John Tory was elected mayor I think social media is an excellent tool to get people engaged and get information out there about what s happening what s going on Ainslie says He also said that

    Original URL path: http://spacing.ca/toronto/2015/05/29/social-media-conditioning-toronto-embracing-new-outreach-tools/ (2015-11-16)
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  • ROBINSON: Merging technology and civic engagement - Spacing Toronto
    daunting the raw material in terms of talent skills and knowledge is abundant in Toronto Interestingly enough Toronto once had such an organization In 1913 Samuel Morley Wickett founded Toronto s Bureau of Municipal Research The Bureau s Q A pamphlet shown above shows that until the 1980s this organization sought to do some of the work we once again need today A few years back Dave Meslin wrote about reinstating the Bureau More recently Gabriel Eidelman an assistant professor at the School of Public Policy and Governance at U of T has been cataloguing the 830 documents the Bureau published from 1914 to 1983 He is keen to talk to others interested in its revival As a university professor I see opportunities too In planning programs across the region all of our students do some kind of project that connects their research and skills with community needs At our school in any given semester we have 12 or more client based studios underway But these projects have long lead times and sometimes emerge from existing networks and relationships We need additional options with quicker turnaround What if someone invented a course for students where credit was earned by being ready waiting and able to respond week by week to community research and graphics needs Course learning objective help someone do something now If you re an educator and you think That course would be chaos to administer then don t volunteer to teach it If you re a learner and this idea appeals ask someone where you are currently learning to make it happen What if ordinary assignments could align with community needs Say a student has a stats assignment and across town a community group needs some data crunched What if we had an app to match these needs up For those of us who work with students the question is how can we connect their learning with pressing community need We ve got a city keen on hackathons and app contests This sleeves rolled up work together spirit is at the heart of what our city needs more of We once had transit camp and now Meghan Hellstern at MaRS is working on a civic design camp initiative If you look at where these kinds of events are being held you see many are held in the downtown core Let s take these gatherings and make them portable and deployable on short notice Rexdale Lab is doing this kind of work in the group s own neighbourhood Until more neighbourhoods have their own capacity a mobile team of volunteers could come over and help These ideas are not a surrender to austere government or a pragmatic resignation to further downloading onto community groups I m not suggesting that precariously employed yet skilled urbanists should perpetually work for free I m arguing here that the future of our city depends on us making the most of what we ve got by putting our assets to work for the

    Original URL path: http://spacing.ca/toronto/2015/05/24/robinson-merging-technology-civic-engagement/ (2015-11-16)
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