Toronto

Friends of Berczy Park 'disappointed' with damage to new dog sculptures

City officials are preparing for the grand reopening of Berczy Park in downtown Toronto on Wednesday but park advocates say damage has already been done to dog sculptures that enliven its fountain.

Skateboarders blamed for cracked, chipped sculptures ahead of park's reopening

City officials are preparing for the grand reopening of Berczy Park on Wednesday but people in the neighbourhood say damage has already been done to its signature dog sculptures. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

City officials are preparing for the grand reopening of Berczy Park in downtown Toronto on Wednesday but park advocates say damage has already been done to dog sculptures that enliven its large whimsical fountain. 

The residents, members of a volunteer community group known as the Friends of Berczy Park, alleges that skateboarders are to blame. The park is located in the St. Lawrence Market area.

"It's disappointing," Shaun Pearen, a member of the group, said Tuesday. 

"It's a brand new park and we're thrilled with it. It's great that people are enjoying the park already. But people should not harm the park and they should respect other park users. Some skateboarders are just not doing that." 
A dog sculpture in Berczy Park with a broken front paw. (Friends of Berczy Park/Facebook)

The two-tiered fountain, the park's centrepiece, features 28 sculptures, 27 of dogs and one of a cat. The dogs spray water from their mouths. And a golden bone sits on top of the fountain. 

The paw of one dog is already cracked, while the hindquarters of another dog is chipped. 

Pearen said the skateboarders have been seen on their boards sliding over benches, the granite plaza, the edge of the fountain itself and its sculptures.

Pearen said it is up to the city to protect the park, situated in a triangle of land between Wellington, Front and Scott streets across from St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. Its grand reopening is slated for 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

Members of the group say they have confronted individual skateboarders but arguments ensued and the activity continues. He said the city has made an effort to protect the park by putting up signs that indicate no skateboarding is allowed. 
The city has put up signs in Berczy Park that indicate no skateboarding is allowed. (Friends of Berczy Park/Facebook)

"We're excited to see the park in the spotlight. But it's up to the city to find solutions," he said.

The city says it is aware of the damage to the statues at Berczy Park. 

"The damage was caused by a hard collision with the sculpture, but staff are unsure as to what actually hit the fountain," said Matthew Cutler, a spokesperson for the city's Parks, Forestry and Recreation department, in a press release.

Toronto police Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said Tuesday that she was unable to locate any complaints filed to 51 Division about any vandalism or damage in the park. 

Cutler said the city has waited to repair the current damage because staff wanted all the sculptures to be in place for the official opening. 

From now on, the damage will be repaired on an ongoing basis. 

The park is named after William Berczy, a German-born architect, surveyor, and writer often considered a co-founder of modern Toronto with John Graves Simcoe.

Berczy was also a painter and his most famous portrait is of Mohawk chief Thayendanegea. 
There are 27 water-spewing dogs on the new fountain in Berczy Park. (CBC)

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