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Meet Dizzy, the inspiration behind Toronto's new cat-themed hot spot

Toronto's first-ever feline-themed park will feature 15 to 20 statuettes of cats, including likenesses of Dizzy himself (as is befitting his stature).

Dizzy the cat poses on Draper Street in 2016.

For Metro by Jacqui Jensen-Roy

Dizzy the cat poses on Draper Street in 2016.

It is Dizzy's world and we just live in it.

For years, the plump 13-year-old orange and white cat has been a popular fixture on Draper Street in downtown Toronto.

Now the friendly feline's legacy is secure, as he is the inspiration for Toronto's first cat-themed park, a pedestrian promenade that will be built in the neighbourhood and opened in 2019.

"Dizzy is happy with it so I'm happy with it," says 72-year-old former elementary schoolteacher Bill Brokenshire, who owns Dizzy and two other cats.

"It's kind of cool," he adds.

Designed by Montreal-based landscape architect Claude Cormier, the cat-themed promenade that will connect Wellington and King west of Spadina is meant as a geographic mirror image to Berczy Park's new dog fountain, which Cormier also designed.

Dizzy naps in front of a neighbourhood development sign in 2016.

J.P. Moczulski for the Toronto Star

Dizzy naps in front of a neighbourhood development sign in 2016.

To be clear, the promenade is not a park that you take your cat to, because cats do not care for your rules. If you want to celebrate all things cat, however, then this is the place for you.

The path will feature 15 to 20 statuettes of cats in various poses and positions, including noble Dizzy likenesses that will greet pedestrians at the north and south entrances. There will also be mice statuettes hidden throughout the promenade "like a treasure hunt," says Cormier. And just like Berczy's dog fountain has one cat, the cat promenade will have one dog "just to be fair," he adds.

However, there will not be any grass on the site. Including it would invite dogs to relieve themselves, and in a cat promenade that would be unseemly, added Cormier.

The English-style promenade is a public benefit built by a development consortium as part of the massive 3.1-hectare mixed-use development on the former Globe and Mail site.

Bill Brokenshire's cat Dizzy is considered a local ambassador on Toronto's historic Draper Street.

J.P. Moczulski for the Toronto Star

Bill Brokenshire's cat Dizzy is considered a local ambassador on Toronto's historic Draper Street.

It will have brick walls on either side and will be flanked by two rows of black locust trees. Water will cascade down the middle of the path into four basins, and in attempt to attract real-life felines, Cormier wants to incorporate catnip too. New seating and lighting will be included as part of the project.

But make no mistake: while Cormier may be an internationally recognized landscape architect known for projects like Sugar Beach and HtO Park, this is Dizzy's promenade.

"Dizzy was the instigator," says Cormier, who was inspired by the neighbourhood cat's dog-like friendliness.

"It started as a joke," he adds. But Cormier, a dog-person at heart, realized it could work. He wanted to design something that would "bring the community together" and "bring the kid out in everyone."

"Being able to tap into that is huge," he says.

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