In 2015 neighbours became aware that a design process for Watkinson park had already been started by the city. At a meeting of the West Bend Residents Association, Gord Perks office presented some initial design ideas. A group of people who use the park along with some who envision ongoing programming of the space brought up the question of how local residents could participate in the design and redevelopment process. We were advised to contact Park People to find out how we could become a group. As they say on their site:
Park People is the catalyst for better parks across Toronto. Our parks are not as good as they should be and we know that when residents get involved, parks get better. That’s why we are working with nearly 100 park friends groups, city workers and other partners to plant more trees and gardens, fix broken infrastructure and get more people out celebrating their communities through parks.
Thus, The Friends of Watkinson Parkette (FoWP) have formed as re-design group of the park. At our founding meeting of February 15, 2015, we defined our plan as:
- organizing a community based, ground up design project for the renovation of the Park. It is our intention to lead a creative, public, participatory design process as FoWP. This will include: outreach to immediate community; working on the design ideas for Watkinson Parkette; outreach to city government and organizations; working on a timeline for design events that conforms to the City of Toronto’s budget year; and consulting with the City’s designers on the final design to be executed.
- Ongoing stewarding including programming and maintenance of Watkinson Park and its further development outside of that which is possible within this current City budget for its redesign.
Discussions have taken place in the community that lives in the vicinity of the Park, and area residents have generated many ideas. We are prioritizing the support and maintenance of the Park as an accessible social space for surrounding low-income residents who are its current users. We are also concerned with the preservation of the wildlife habitat.
There has been a strong desire expressed towards enhancing the park as a natural space for peaceful contemplation and communing with nature. Many of us also envision the Park as a place to draw on the cultural practices of our neighbours to creatively reflect our community through mosaic, banners, murals and other artistic media. We would like to organize ongoing cultural and environmental programming throughout the year.
Here is a PDF sketch of the current park layout:
Here is FoWP proposed design: