Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Ghost Bike at Lansdowne & Davenport

A beautiful memorial has appeared at the south-east corner of Earlscourt Park for Tom Samson, beloved husband and father of two. On November 23rd, 2012, while riding his bike to work, the elementary school teacher was struck and killed by two vehicles at Lansdowne & Davenport, one of which was a hit-and-run driver. 

Ghost Bikes are installed near cyclists' crash sites as quiet reminders of cyclists' right to safe travel. A moving tribute to a kind soul, Tom's memorial is flanked by flowers and illuminated by candles at night.

If you want a glimpse into Tom's life as a teacher, please check out the video clips on Swansea Public School's website:

And if you're at that corner of the Park, please take a moment to remember Tom.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Park Talk Nov 29 - Planning Events in Parks

Great communities are built around parks and green spaces; they provide natural spots for people to gather together.

Festivals and large events bring a lot of excitement to a park, but it's the smaller, local events that build community - skating parties, hot chocolate nights, spring planting days, birthday parties, pot-lucks,  community picnics. 

Yet, it's surprisingly difficult to organize small events in Toronto's outdoor spaces and gain the city's approval - something that became very clear to us and other park groups this season when trying to organize our Pumpkin Parades. 

In talking with other "Friends Of" groups and Park People, we learned that the policies around similar gatherings are unclear enough that even the most seasoned City Councillors have difficulty navigating them. Were permits needed? Insurance? Did City Staff need to be present? Would Solid Waste handle clean-up, or would private arrangements need to be made? Was permission even needed from the City, or could groups just go ahead on their own?

Like many other wards, we in Ward 17 are fortunate to have a City Councillor who is very supportive of community-building events. But we have to wonder - what can be done to reduce the number of hurdles that stand in the way of bringing people together in our parks?

Park People and Parks Forestry & Recreation Staff are hosting a meeting on this topic later thus week. We encourage all parks groups and interested citizens to attend!

When: Thursday, November 29, 2012, 6:00 to 7:30pm
Where: Frankland Community Centre, 816 Logan Avenue

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Design Proposals for Stair Replacement Project

Earlscourt Park has benefited from a series improvements in recent years, such as the major upgrade to the west soccer field, the addition of the dog park, and the creation of volleyball courts. However, we can all agree that more work needs to be done to further improve and beautify the park.
The state of disrepair of the stairs leading up to the park from Davenport Road has been identified as a significant safety hazard, making their replacement the City's top priority for capitol improvements at Earlscourt. It also makes sense for this project to include installation of a barrier-free access ramp at the same time, ahead of the City's 2025 deadline for accessibility standards.
Other capitol improvements to the park - such as a complete path system and improved lighting - are highly desirable, however, Friends of Earlscourt Park recognizes that this project needs to take priority due to ongoing safety concerns and gives this our support.
Ward 17 Councillor Cesar Palacio held a Community Meeting at J.J. Piccininni Community Centre on November 15, in which two proposed designs for this project were revealed. Our notes from the meeting follow.
Meeting hosted by:
Cesar Palacio, Ward 17 City Councillor, and his staffer George Bianci
Mary Bataglia, Park Manager
Stephen O’Bright, Supervisor, Capitol Projects, Buildings and Infrastructure
Both concepts are designed to:
  • Provide innovation;
  • Protect existing trees, habitat and landscape;
  • Work with the existing grade;
  • Maintain spine of existing stairs;
  • Add a ramp system with switchbacks to provide better accessibility to the park and to meet mandatory 2025 accessibility standards;
  • Add lighting and seating.
Concept A: Estimated cost $600K; Raised metal ramp/stair system.
  • Less invasive to landscape because it floats on posts above the ground;
  • Surfaces have holes (like a “cheese grater”) to allow snow/ice to fall through instead of building up. 
  • Dogs will not walk on this type of structure;
  • May be dangerous if someone fell on it;
  • More switchbacks than concept B;
  • Cannot be adapted to include ramps in other directions later.

 Concept B: Estimated cost $400K; Poured concrete ramp/stairs.
  • More integrated in the landscape;
  • Wider walking paths,
  • More rest areas with benches to rest/look at nature;
  • Better material for safety;
  • Additional ramps to/from other directions can be easily added to connect this design to any future path system created in the park.
  • More invasive to landscape because it involves disturbing the ground matter but all existing large trees will be preserved.
Meeting Q & A:
Q: Why are the prices are so high; the city is not being prudent with money.
A: Costs are are based on current estimates from private section construction costs.
Q: Why is the staircase replacement not part of the city repair budget instead of being a capitol project?
A:  There is only $300K per year for repairs/maintenance for 11 wards’ parks, which is very tight
Q: Why not skip the stairs and just install a ramp, using the extra money for paths elsewhere?
A: Cutting out the stairs would only save about $50K, which is not enough to create paths, and that’s not how city budgets work.
Q: This will be a staircase to nowhere; why can’t we have paths first or at the same time?
A: Existing stair repair is urgent and the new stairs/ramp has to come first or else we would have paths leading to the top of an unsafe stairway; paths will be a future project, it is a vision.
  • Stephen O’Bright has to submit a proposal in early spring 2013 to get approval and funding to begin construction in 2014; if total funding isn’t provided, they can do stairs first, ramp later.
  • Community support is key in getting this project moving.
  • Contact Cesar Palacio’s office no later than January to provide feedback on the proposals.
  • Councillor Palacio will schedule  another community meeting in early 2013 to collect community input. Target date: late January.
We encourage all residents to provide their feedback on the proposed designs to Councillor Palacio by January, 2013.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Community Meeting Nov 15 - Earlscourt Park Revitalization

We mentioned in a previous post of news from Ward 17 Councillor Cesar Palacio of upcoming renovations to the Park.

We are thrilled to announce that renovations are scheduled for Spring 2013 to replace the deteriorating stairs leading up from Davenport Road and install barrier-free access in that same area of the park.

Councillor Palacio will be holding a Community Meeting this week to discuss these improvements. All interested should attend!

When: Thursday, November 15, 6:30pm
Where: Joseph J. Piccininni Community Centre, Main Lobby.

For more information, please visit:

Friday, 2 November 2012

1st Annual Pumpkin Parade!

Last night's Pumpkin Parade was tremendous fun! 

We had a fabulous time meeting all of the families who came, and thank all for braving the damp, chilly weather to light up the night. We saw some fantastic pumpkins!

Despite the weather, many families stayed long after they had seen the displays to strike up conversations and get to know one another. 

Passersby came in from St. Clair and out from the Community Centre to admire the pumpkins, TTC drivers paused in the Lansdowne turnaround to check out the action, and the kids (and a few dogs!) struck up instant friendships. 

We're particularly thankful to all who told us that they usually attend one of the larger, more established parades, but that they live near Earlscourt Park and wanted to support an event closer to home. And that they'll be back next year.

We heard many families tell us about how important community events are, and how they look forward to seeing more in Earlscourt. 

We hear you loud and clear, and will be working with our City Councillor to plan an event for the Spring.  

In the meantime - we're already looking forward to next year's Parade!

Special thanks to our volunteers for all of their help, and to Solid Waste for collecting the pumpkins afterwards!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

We're Hosting a Pumpkin Parade!

Join us in the park on November 1st for a Pumpkin Parade!
Bring your jack-o-lanterns to the walkway near the main entrace to JJ Piccininni CC (St. Clair Ave & Lansdowne) from 6:30 - 8:30pm. Candles and lighters will be provided.
Our neighbours at Sorauren Park have been running a Parade in their park for the past few years - check out this scene (below) from 2011's parade. Let's send Hallowe'en off in style at Earlscourt!

A big thank-you to City of Toronto Solid Waste staff who have arranged for the pumpkin pick-up following the parade.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

A Meeting of Park Minds

Friends of Earlscourt Park held our first official meeting with Ward 17 City Coucillor Cesar Palacio on August 23. In addition to his willingness to facilitate projects to better the park, and offering his support as a liaison with the City where needed, he has made us aware of a series of initiatives that affect Earlscourt Park.  

Meeting highlights:

General Maintenance issues in the Park. Maintenance issues should be reported by calling 3-1-1. Concerns may also be directed to Cesar's office (; he will follow up and ensure that the issues are being dealt with in a timely manner.

Capital Improvements. Several structures at Earlscourt Park are slated for refurbishment/repair/renovation under the City's capital expense budget over the next decade. Stay tuned for more details.

Upcoming Community Meeting: Cesar's office will be coordinating a meeting in the coming weeks to solicit community feedback for the proposed ramp up from Davenport to replace the existing stairs which are badly in need of repairs. Please read more about this here.

Green Initiatives: Cesar's office will hold a community consultation meeting in the future to duscuss greening the Park. Date TBD.

Band Shell and surrounding area: This structure exists because of community fundraising, and Cesar continues to work with local labour unions and BIAs to continue fundraising to bring this area to completion.

Beautification: Friends of Earlscourt Park has identified a series of smaller initiatives relating to park beautification, such as planting of perennials and painting the wading pool. Councillor Palacio agrees that projects such as these can make a big difference and offers his support to help prioritize and facilitate these projects.

We are thrilled with Councillor Palacio's commitment to working with our group!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Update on Maintenance Issues - July 25, 2012

Councillor Cesar Palacio and his office have been working with the Parks Supervisors to address current maintenance issues in Earlscourt Park. We were pleased to learn the following this week:

1. Wading Pool Inspection: Parks has had a plumber inspect the wading pool to ensure that all is in good working order. This includes the spray (fountain) feature, which we are told is fully operational aside from those times that the pool is being filled or emptied. 

2. Litter: New closed-style garbage and recycling containers have been ordered to replace the existing open concept bins, which allow litter to be blown through the park and playground. In addition, Solid Waste Management has been asked to increase the overall number of containers in the park. 

3. Playground Signage: Parks has placed an order for signage to encourage park users to "Please help keep our parks clean".

We thank Councillor Palacio and the Parks Supervisors for addressing these issues!

Combined with last week's news about the upcoming field house renovation and future ramp installation from Davenport this demonstrates a genuine interest from the City on addressing concerns in the Park. 

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Earlscourt Park is Getting Capitol Improvements!

Hello EP lover,

We've had some wonderful news from Councillor Cesar Palacio about upcoming Earlscourt Park renovations:

  • Earlscourt Park Fieldhouse (Building #7 - south of the new soccer field) is getting completely redone this year. Over $150,000 is being invested in renovations. This is a fantastic addition to the park and soccer field; players and residents will now have a proper place to change before using the field.
  • Switchback Ramps. The deteriorating state of the stairs (from the dog park to Davenport Road) is being addressed by staff. Since Toronto has to be fully accessible by 2025, Parks and my office have come together to develop a ramp design to replace the stairs. The ramp will begin and end at the same location as the current stairs to avoid any accessibility confusion. The attached photograph is a built example in Hamilton that staff are using as a precedent. This is a huge capital infrastructure investment that we should all be proud of.
Sample ramp design from a facility in Hamilton

Hip Hip Hooray!!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Hello, Fellow Park Lover!

We are a newly formed group of your neighbours who want to make Earlscourt Park a better place for everyone.
Our mission is to create a thriving park environment that inspires safe, creative outdoor play, as well as encouraging community spirit and interaction by developing programming that reflects the diverse cultural mosaic of the Earlscourt neighbourhood. We are a diverse group, willing to share new ideas, respect differing points of view, and participate in a collaborative process to create a vibrant community park.
If you want to see Earlscourt Park improve, please help us out. A simple "like" of our Facebook page will help show how many people want change. And if you want to join in the effort, please contact us via Facebook or email to join our mailing list or join our group.
See you at the park!