Alternative Plans for Bickford Park
On June 20th, 2013, three design options for Bickford Park were presented at a public meeting organized by Councilor Mike Layton. The Toronto Parks Plan classifies Bickford as a “neighbourhood park”. Parks in this category are designed to “provide opportunities for passive recreation and limited types of active recreation amenities within a reasonable walking distance of intended users. Amenities include: seating areas; gardens; playgrounds; small sports fields; waterplay; and tennis courts”.
In recent years the small Bickford Park has seen increasing competition between baseball players, dog owners, and unorganized users who enjoy the natural features of the park and look for open areas for recreation and pick-up games. Two baseball diamonds currently occupy much of the floor of the park and are increasingly used for adult baseball. A small unfenced off-leash area exists at the north end, but dogs often roam freely across the park. The result has been the loss of the “neighbourhood” character of the public park. On summer evenings pedestrians, joggers and recreational users often have to stay on the Montrose Lane path and the Grace Street sidewalk, and prior to being re-sodded in 2012, the park floor had lost much of its grass surface and was muddy and unusable after rains.
All three plans attempt to relieve the competition for space on the bottom
of the park. All envision an enclosed area for leash-free dogs and retain at least one baseball diamond. Plans B and C maintain but relocate the two existing diamonds. Oval, fenced off-leash areas are shown at the south (C) and north end (B). These would have a gravel or screed surface. Both proposals increase the total length of fencing in the park, a controversial issue ever since, in the mid-1990s, opposition from local residents and many baseball parents prevented the construction of a chain-link fence around the entire north diamond. Plan B leads to a net loss of natural space in the north end of the park. Because they compress the area between the diamonds, B and C reduce or eliminate space for other activities such as soccer. Both B and C add a path through the park. This is a desirable addition, but the path leads straight along the east slope, and sections would be separated from the park by a washroom building, two baseball fences and a dog fence.
Plan A shows the park with the north diamond removed. Its path leads pedestrians into the center of the park. It allows for significant space for pick-up games, especially soccer, and envisions additional tree planting. There is no net increase in fencing. All three plans add seating areas to the south or north end of the park.
Each plan can be modified further. In B and C the size of the dog areas or the distance between the diamonds in B and C could be changed. In plan A, the surface of the leash-free area and the nature of the enclosure were left open. Leash-free areas in other parts of the city use a variety of fencing, but whatever is used must enclose the entire area and must prevent dogs from entering other parts of Bickford Park.
(click maps to enlarge)