An unexpected crowd of over 70 people packed the cafeteria at Monarch Park Collegiate Institute on April 13 to talk about future plans for Monarch Park.
The meeting, organized by the Danforth East Community Association, aimed at starting a dialogue revolving around current issues in the park, and how to resolve them. Improvements to the park are also in the process of being implemented, such as a new slide for the swimming pool, improvements to the pathways with better access, and revitalization of the Woodfield Road underpass.
Concerns were voiced over the dog park boundaries and how some users don’t know that there’s a dog area. There is also an issue with people driving their vehicles through the park to access the ice rink.
During a strong wind storm last year some of the trees toppled and there are concerns that it may happen again as some of the trees are very old. City of Toronto Parks General Supervisor Mark Hawkins, who was in attendance, said that he would have someone do a tree audit and identify any problem trees.
Anna Hill, Coordinator, Community Outreach and Neighbourhood Parks at Park People, suggested the community start a “Friends of” group.
“Be inclusive. You have to be ready to compromise,” said Hill adding that it is important for community members to allow conflict but have a process to resolve issues such as having residents vote on park proposals.
“There’s a sense that there is a lot to be done in the park,” said Ward 30 councillor Paula Fletcher. “This is probably the last park in Ward 30 without a group around it.”
Ideas from the participants were aplenty, and by the end of the evening a list of over 20 items was written on the board. Some included better driveway safety, taking down the ‘G20’ fence, extended pool and rink hours, and adding washrooms.
A young attendee was prepared to lead the building of a clubhouse with video games and food.
Avid tennis players voiced their disappointment with the lack of tennis courts in the area and would like to see them built in the park.
“No idea is a bad idea,” said Fletcher.
“The park seems to be under-utilized,” said Christopher Trevors, who has lived in the community for three years and uses the park daily with his dog. “I’m hoping to see more programs in place so that you get to know your neighbours and have more positive things happen in the community.”
“We think the community was very receptive, and we’re happy to get the conversation started about the park,” said Sarah Kiriliuk of DECA.
“We are not here to take over the park. We are here to facilitate the dialogue,” said Kriliuk.
A facebook page is expected to be created in the near future, and anyone with ideas or willing to lead some of the ideas presented is encouraged to contact DECA through their website www.danfortheastcommunityassociation.com.