Posted by: Waheeda Harris | July 2, 2014

Summer in the city – finding the green spaces

Since I moved to Toronto, I’ve always enjoyed the summer in the city – despite what most people think of first – big city, pollution, extreme heat and humidity – there’s so many other things to recommend this city in the summer months – and one of the best is our parks.

Toronto - my balcony style

It all starts with an outdoor space – for me its my balcony, inspired by my local park (see below). For many others, its the backyard or for visitors, its the numerous parks, like the ones found along the Harbourfront and Lake Ontario, Trinity Bellwoods Park, St James Park, High Park or my personal favourite, Allan Gardens.

Toronto - Allen Gardens

One of the oldest parks of the city, Allan Gardens was founded in 1858, with a conservatory that was initially built in 1879, but burnt down and was rebuilt in 1910 and was called the Palm House. Four more buildings have been added over the past years, including the University of Toronto’s greenhouses to create a children’s greenhouse a few years ago.

Sitting between Jarvis, Carlton, Sherbourne and Gerrard, this park has become a lovely refuge from the big city, a place to walk the dog, sit on a bench with friends or even play with a frisbee. I regularly walk through the park as I head to meetings and to go shopping in the downtown, and I try to stop inside the Conservatory, to see what’s in bloom. It’s an inspiration to see the collection of plants inside and outside, which helps me when I start planting my balcony planters.

As a neighbour of the park, I’ve realized how important it is – not just for its beauty, but for the fact that years ago when the city was much smaller, it dedicated this land to be a park, an accessible space for everyone.

In this century, there’s no guarantee this wouldn’t be subdivided into many highrises if it wasn’t protected. Note to city planners and developers – building and density is fine, but let’s not forget to keep green spaces in mind too – they’re absolutely necessary.

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