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Toronto is having a park boom and people are taking notice

Multiple new parks have opened in the past few weeks and Torontonians are flocking to them.

The new-look Grange Park on the day it opened.

Eduardo Lima/Metro

The new-look Grange Park on the day it opened.

Toronto parks are having their moment in the sun.

Several parks, both new and renovated, have opened in the past month and proved popular so far.

Berczy Park in the St. Lawrence Market has seen people flock to take selfies with its whimsical dog fountain. Guild Park in Scarborough received a restoration that has earned admiration from local heritage enthusiasts. Grange Park south of the AGO, which playfully pays homage to its artistic surroundings, just opened this past weekend. And the provincially-owned Trillium Park on the former Ontario Place site offers another revitalized and expansive green space.

"What we're seeing is the culmination of many years of hard work," says Janie Romoff, the general manager for Toronto's parks department of the park boom.

Each of the parks were years in the making through the community consulation and design stage. Some also benefited from the use of section 37 money, where developers pay for local benefits in exchange for additional density.

The re-designed Berczy Park was formally opened in late June.

Eduardo Lima/Metro

The re-designed Berczy Park was formally opened in late June.

Romoff was quick to credit the respective communities with their work to help make better plans.

"You need to provide for and allow the right amount of time for dialogue and consensus," she said, adding hearing from local residents results in better parks that reflect the needs of changing and growing neighbourhoods.

These parks have also increasingly benefited from community groups like Friends of Berczy Park, according to Dave Harvey, executive director of the local non-profit group Park People. He says they also play an important and ongoing role looking out for the site's interest long after the ribbon cutting.

"It's not just about great park design, but community ownership too," he tells Metro.

Romoff adds another positive is that the popular new parks have "raised the bar" and "set a new standard."

"When you open up parks like Berczy and the Grange, what you hear from people in other parts of the city is 'how do I get one like that?'" she says.

For Harvey, this is a big shift. He adds that Torontonians used to give reasons why they couldn't have nice things like Berczy or Grange Park, but now it's more about figuring out a way to make ambitious projects like the Bentway and the proposed Raildeck Park happen.

"It's a great attitude change."

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