Sudburians told city council what they'd like to see done with a piece of Bell Park currently covered in asphalt.

The city is looking for ideas for the old hospital parking lot — and citizens passionate about the park had no shortage of suggestions.

Everything from an arts centre to a hedge maze to an orchard of fruit and nut trees was pitched for the paved-over piece of Bell Park that’s about a hectare in size. The space was used for decades as parking for the former General Hospital.

Sudbury residents ponder parking issues

Sudburians suggested everything from an arts centre to a hedge maze at a public meeting Thursday night about a paved-over piece of Bell Park. (Erik White/CBC)

Some people said to plant grass and make it look like it used to.

Bob Hanson said he’d like to turn back the clock even further and plant a forest in Bell Park.

"I'd like to see it the way it was before the city was even here,” he said.

“Even before the railway. Not in my lifetime, but maybe my great-grandkids, they might see what it looked like."

But his friend, Tony Durbacz, had the opposite opinion. He's hoping it stays a parking lot.

"I find any time there's any kind of event at Bell Park, there's people parking on the streets, people complaining about parking tickets."

'Get rid of all parking lots'

Several citizens said anything but green space goes against the wishes of William Bell, who donated the land to the city in 1926.

Bill Newlands said he'd also like to see the two gravel parking lots off York Street replanted with trees and grass.

"If Bell was alive today I'm sure he'd agree with me, that we want it to be natural and get rid of all the parking lots around there,” he said.

Mayor Marianne Matichuk said she has a specific idea for the old parking lot, but doesn't want to influence the public input.

However, she did remember that her late father was furious when that part of Bell Park was paved over decades ago — and made his feelings known at a city council meeting.

"When it was turned into a parking lot, he just thought that was terrible — because it's not a park anymore,” she said.

City staff — and the consultants who were paid $16,000 for this study — took careful notes. The public input will be part of a report tabled at a Sudbury city council meeting sometime in the new year.

bell park parking overview