Corktown Common closure upsets Toronto east enders

Residents in Toronto's Corktown are upset that they're being shut out of an award-winning park in the area for the next three months.

Award-winning park to be closed for 3 months as Pan Am athletes move into the area

Corktown Common will be closed for several months beginning June 1. (Waterfront Toronto)

Residents in Toronto's Corktown neighbourhood are upset that they're being shut out of an award-winning park in the area for the next three months.

Corktown Common, which opened two years back in the West Don Lands to rave reviews from the public and the design community, will become part of the Pan Am Games' Athlete's Village.

A sign in the park says it will be closed until August 31 but the Corktown Residents and Business Association says the park will be closed from June 1 to September 30 since it falls within the security perimeter for the village.

The Pan Am flame will arrive in Toronto Saturday to begin its 41-day journey and will be carried through the streets of the city en route to a community celebration in the Distillery Historic District. The Games run from July 10 to 26.

Nick Patel, who lives a short walk away from the park, says the announcement of the closure came as a surprise and that he's disappointed families won't be able to visit Corktown Common until the end of September.

Patel says he can understand closing the park just before the Games begin "but to prolong it until late September pretty much eliminates anyone's chance to come back to the park and at least get the latter part of summer to enjoy it."

Patel also feels the security measure is "a little extreme.

"Closing it off in the belief that there's a chance of extremism happening is a little bit of a stretch," he said, adding there should be a way to address security concerns without closing the park.

On Thursday, Teddy Katz, TO2015's director of media relations, addressed the community's concerns.

"We will do everything we can to have Corktown Common open as soon as possible after the completion of the Games in late August," Katz told CBC News.

The 7.3-hectare park is the largest in the area and one of the largest being built as part of the city's waterfront revitalization. Corktown Common has a playground, splash pad, athletic field, open lawns, tables and benches.

Last year, Popular Science awarded the hugely popular park a "Best of What's New" award in its Green category "for its sustainable design, and its positive and lasting impact on the community and the environment."