Upgrades Coming to Allan Gardens Off-Leash Area

I have some exciting news to share with my neighbours and their best canine friends!

My staff and I have been working hard to engage the Parks, Forestry and Recreation division and dog owners across Ward 13 to develop an Off-Leash Area (OLA) revitalization plan. In 2019, I convened a meeting of OLA representatives at City Hall from across the ward. We profiled and reviewed each park that contained an OLA, discussed the key issues, working priorities for the community and Park staff.

Since that initial meeting, I continued to advocate with Parks staff regarding the conditions and maintenance of OLAs in Ward 13 and based on these discussions and with community input, it was clear that Allan Gardens and Corktown needed to be elevated to priority status.

I have stressed repeatedly with Parks staff that Allan Gardens should be prioritized for revitalization because of its high-profile status as a destination OLA for residents in the immediate neighbourhood and for those travelling from outside our ward to visit with their dogs. The Allan Gardens OLA officially opened in 2008 and it was unique at the time given the separate areas for large and small dogs, an unusual feature we rarely see elsewhere in the city’s other OLAs.

Allan Gardens is one of my son’s favourite park because of the exceptional playground the City built in 2015. We visit Allan Gardens almost daily for his outdoor playtime, so I have seen firsthand how well-used the OLA is. Having spoken personally to many residents in the park, it’s my intention to invest sizeable resources to revitalize this beloved OLA once Parks staff are ready to further the consultation that was delayed because of the global pandemic.

My staff and I have witnessed the lack of maintenance in the OLA and raised many concerns on your behalf to Park staff. The OLA redesign work in the upcoming year will address maintenance issues such as broken gates, gaps in and under the fencing, deteriorated surface material and uneven ground. It could also correct the deficiencies missed in the original OLA consultation and design, such as the lack of irrigation, additional fountains, etc.

After considerable advocacy from our office to Parks staff and now with the peak of the COVID-19 lockdowns behind us, I am happy to share with you that the anticipated upgrades are finally back on track for the Allan Gardens Off-Leash Area!

Parks staff will begin the Allan Garden’s OLA public consultations in the second half of 2022 with an anticipated full reconstruction to take place in 2023/2024. The project will be fully funded through section 37 funding for community benefits. As a short-term, immediate measure, I have submitted a motion for the November 9 City Council meeting to release $250,000 for initial capital improvements including replenishing the crushed granite ground covering - an improvement that can not wait until the full OLA reconstruction which is at least two years away.

Crushed granite is not an ideal surface material, however, based on the results of a quick poll that was conducted in the Allan Gardens OLA Facebook Group, this is what was identified as an immediate and interim intervention. Newer sustainable materials and smarter contemporary design solutions will take place with broader public consultation which is starting next year.

We will post detailed updates on our community engagement platform Toronto Centre Projects as more information become available: www.TorontoCentreProjects.ca/processes/allangardensola

Thank you and I look forward to seeing you in the park!

Kristyn

Showing 2 comments

  • Tyler Johnson
    Tyler Johnson
    ()
    Flag

    Hi Paul, thanks for bringing that to our attention. We will have to follow up with staff to find out why they did that back in 2018.

    It’s important for you to understand a Councillor’s office does not manage the day-to-day operations of any division of the city. Our role is policy and advocacy. Councillor Wong-Tam has been advocating for better maintenance of our downtown parks. It has become too common for our downtown parks to lack the maintenance necessary to keep them up to a standard of good repair, and then our office needs to get involved to seek authorization from City Council to release Section 37 Community Benefits to reconstruct a park instead of expanding or building new parks.

    Councillor Wong-Tam’s motion to release $250,000 is only interim and will replace the ground covering at Allan Gardens OLA in early 2022. Staff have committed to inserting Allan Gardens OLA in their capital plan for the 2022 budget, which means consultations for the full reconstruction of the park (not fixing things here and there) will begin with a public consultation to show renderings of the new park based upon all of the asks/requests made to date (it’s a long list as you know) and seek public input on the designs and then reconstruction will begin in 2023.

    As someone who uses the OLA myself, I understand and share everyone’s frustration. Since I’ve joined the office and have taken on championing the OLA revitalization across the entire ward on behalf of Councillor Wong-Tam and on behalf of the community, it has been a struggle to get staff to act with more urgency. 1-2 years of the pandemic has only delayed much of the work we could’ve had off the ground in 2020/2021 and so the timelines have now become 2022/2023.

  • PG
    Paul G
    ()
    Flag

    Kristyn. On Oct 2, 2018 the Off Leash area was closed for heavy equipment to come and fix the slope and resurface both sides of the park. It rained that day and they left but said they would be back tomorrow. How do I know this, I was there when they opened the park and was told to my face. Today is November 14, 2021 and so far they have never returned. I guess tomorrow never came. So far, we have gone through 2 Surveys (one OLA and one from your office). Now we have to wait until the second half of 2022( is that before or after the October 24th Election Day) for a third survey and then until 2023/2024 to possibly have work begin? You say that on November 9, 2021 you submitted a motion for $ 250,000 for Capital Improvements but that can take months to be approved or denied which will take it into the Winter months when work could not be done due to weather. So basically, we are looking at approximately late spring or summer of 2022, correct?Just want to get my facts straight.