Will a single diamond in Bickford Park “displace a couple hundred baseball kids”, “eliminate the Tee Ball diamond and replace it with a giant unfenced off-leash area for dogs” and “threaten sports in Bickford Park”? The answer is clearly: no! Children’s baseball in Bickford was founded by local residents and has long been supported by them, and many local children have participated in these programs. It is, and will continue to be, a delightful and welcome part of Bickford Park.
However, like other parks in Ward 19 which the City considers “parks deficient”, Bickford Park has come under increasing strain from unbalanced uses and territorial claims. The small park cannot sustain two diamonds, soccer games, an off-leash dog area, and still serve as a neighborhood park. Pedestrian and bicycle traffic has increased along the west path. Dogs often stray into the park. Although both diamonds are classified as undersize, they are increasingly used for adult baseball games during key hours of summer evenings and occupy the entire park floor and the south-west slope. Other users have to walk around rather than through the park.
The planning process initiated by Councilor Layton tries to create a greater balance of uses. The removal of one diamond in plan A maintains children and youth baseball programs, offers more space for informal recreational activities, and creates a sufficiently large and effective enclosure for unleashed dogs. Most important, it also adds to the tree canopy, allows some landscaping along the path, and preserves parts of Bickford as a quiet, green environment.
Currently, 6 diamonds exist in the adjacent Christie Pits, Bickford and Eggleton parks, more than twice the number in other downtown parks, many of which are much larger. Children and youth baseball programs use the two Bickford diamonds only for a few hours each week, and at these times the Christie Pits fields are often empty. There is no question that these games can be consolidated on the remaining diamonds. High Park operates a larger children’s program from only three diamonds and uses fields in neighboring schoolyards and parks. For adults, full-size diamonds are available in Christie Pits, Dovercourt, Trinity Bellwoods and Stanley parks, and in numerous other locations. In addition, some 25 smaller diamonds exist in our neighbourhood. If in the future more space is needed for t-ball, a refurbished diamond in Eggleton park, located on City land close to a wading pool and playground would be perfect, especially for parents who bring younger siblings. Our area is clearly parks-deficient, but does not suffer from a shortage of baseball fields.
The Toronto Playgrounds organization has told you to “vote for plans B and C”. Please take an unbiased look at the three plans on the News section of this website. Help us create a green and attractive environment for all users of Bickford Park, including your children!