Toronto

Some Toronto park lovers could be out of luck due to cold, rainy spring

The hot, sunny days of summer may have arrived in Toronto, but a cold, rainy spring has delayed some major construction projects in the some of the city's most popular parks, rendering some areas off limits.

Poor weather has delayed construction projects in some of Toronto's most popular parks

Flooding along Trinity path in Trinity Bellwoods Park. From March to May, Environment Canada reports 254.8 mm of rain fell in Toronto and that has had an impact across the city. (supplied by Friends of Trinity Bellwoods)

Hundreds of thousands of people who are anxious to use some of Toronto's most popular green spaces are going to be disappointed for much of the summer, as cold, wet spring weather has caused delays to repairs and improvements in and around city parks.

From Trinity Bellwoods downtown to the Eglinton and Martingrove area to the north and Humber Bay park on the shores of Lake Ontario — the weather has played a big role in pushing back major construction projects.  

From March to May, Environment Canada reports 254.8 mm of rain fell in Toronto and that has had an impact across the city.

"Anything that's located on an old river bed, anything that's low lying ... is going to run into those kind of drainage issues when heavy rain falls," said Krista Carroll, a senior project coordinator with the city's Parks Development and Capital Projects department.

"It does hinder how we do work throughout the city."

Trinity Bellwoods Park is a popular summer gathering place for people in the city's downtown area. (Trinity Bellwoods Block Party 2015/Facebook)

Carroll is overseeing work in Trinity Bellwoods Park, which has become a cultural hub with flea markets and lots of activity on its three baseball diamonds, eight tennis courts, and two volleyball courts.

Work is underway to reconstruct the Trinity Circle path and the fire access route from Crawford Street, which means restricted access to large parts of the park.

Construction began in April and was set to be completed in June but rainfall on top of a late winter freeze has delayed the project.

"Lots of scattered rain days and then that means waiting for the ground to dry out. So it's not necessarily only days that are rainy where work can't continue," Carroll said.

She says water doesn't filter through the soil very effectively in Trinity Bellwoods and that leads to ponding in different areas, forcing crews to either wait for the excess water to dry up or drain it before they can continue their work.

In a statement, Coun. Joe Cressy, who represents Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York, says construction work on the Trinity Bellwoods Park pathway improvement started in May and was expected to take six to eight weeks, but will now have to be delayed.

Large parts of Trinity Bellwoods Park are fenced off due to construction of the Trinity Circle path. (supplied by Friends of Trinity Bellwoods)

"Parks staff have advised that the contractor has completed most of the paving work around the circle path, with some concrete work remaining, and they are targeting sod installation next week if weather permits," Cressy wrote.

And once the sod has been laid, Cressy says fencing will stay up for an additional 10 days to give it time to take root. 

"Unfortunately this does mean that the path will remain closed for a couple more weeks," his statement says.

Kathryn Money, a volunteer with a group called Friends of Trinity Bellwoods, says the closure has had a  big impact on the park.

"We have programs in there that are being impacted negatively. It's a huge shame," she said.

"Not only that but also just from the wear and tear that's happening. Because of the fencing people are walking on places that  would have been lush green grass, but are now compacted dirt."

And she says on the weekends, thousands of people are still trying to cram themselves into the parts of the park that are still open.

Sign in Trinity Bellwoods lists completion date as June 2019, but does note that could change depending on the weather. (Supplied by Friends of Trinity Bellwoods)

"They're being squished together a little bit more, which is unfortunate," said Money.

The wet, cold spring has also meant another big construction project has been pushed back. 

A water main replacement on Martin Grove Road from Eglinton Avenue West to Rathburn Road was to be completed by the end of June. But in an email, a city spokesperson says 30 days of inclement weather between January to May have delayed the completion of that project until early August. 

Similarly, due to trail improvement work from Palace Pier to Humber Bay Park, parts of Humber Bay Shores Park won't be open until late summer.

"I'm sad for them as well. Definitely with a limited amount of green space in Toronto it would be great if they could kind of get seasonally ready and make sure that it's not negatively impacting our small outdoor spaces," said Money.

But Carroll says city staff don't intend to close park space any longer than they have to. 

"I know that can be frustrating for people who see it day in and day out but you know we want to make sure that we do our projects right." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Lee-Shanok

Senior Reporter, CBC Toronto

From small town Ontario to Washington D.C., Philip has covered stories big and small. An award-winning reporter with more than two decades of experience in Ontario and Alberta, he's now a Senior Reporter for CBC Toronto on television, radio and online. He is also a National Reporter for The World This Weekend on Radio One. Follow him on Twitter @CBCPLS.

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