Leaside Gardens’ landlocked backyard to become a public park

A new park is coming to Leaside.
A new park is coming to Leaside. Photo Geoff Kettel.

What a pleasant surprise, Leaside is about to gain a new park! Actually, it’s not really new, there is a landlocked space hidden away behind the Leaside Memorial Community Gardens that’s about to get a whole lot more accessible. The only ones who currently know about the green space are a few intrepid explorers who slip through the side alley beside the entrance to the William Lea Room, often with a dog in tow. Seems to me that the board of Leaside Gardens may be forgiven for thinking that they owned it!

Image: Google Maps.
Image: Google Maps.

Why is it happening? It’s all due to the redevelopment of Sunnybrook Plaza. RioCan and their new development partners, Concert Properties, were required to provide funds for parkland, and 21 Southvale Drive was the property they were able to acquire from a list of candidates provided by the Parks Department. Admittedly, the new public park that is enabled by the provision of access is a good distance away from the development that made it possible, but with major new developments coming into that area, ultimately Leaside as a whole will benefit.

21 Southvale Drive was the property acquired from a list of candidates provided by the Parks Department.
21 Southvale Drive was the property acquired from a list of candidates provided by the Parks Department. Photo Geoff Kettel.

How will this happen? First, the 21 Southvale property will be delivered to the City by Concert Properties in “base park condition,” which means the building will be demolished, and the lot cleared, sodded, and fenced. City Parks will then hire park planning consultants and conduct a broad community consultation to find out about the ideas of the neighbours, and well as those Leasiders farther away, about the role of the new park, and how it should serve the community. And then, of course, depending on the final design, there will be a need for capital funds in order to build what the plan recommends. So, it may be a while before much happens there (and giving the dog walkers some company!), but new green is coming.

About Geoff Kettel 113 Articles
Geoff Kettel is a community connector and advocate for “making places better”. He is currently Co-President of the Leaside Property Owners’ Association, Co-Chair of the Federation of North Toronto Residents‘ Associations (FoNTRA), and Chair of the North York Community Preservation Panel. He writes a monthly column on heritage and planning in Leaside Life.