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Published on Saturday, July 14, 2007

Grass greener with Asphalt Annie gone

As urban sprawl continues across the 905, creating and preserving park space has become a major issue. During last fall's municipal elections, GTA communities voted in mayors who promised development wouldn't happen without plenty of green space attached.

By San Grewal Staff Reporter, Toronto Star

As urban sprawl continues across the 905, creating and preserving park space has become a major issue. During last fall's municipal elections, GTA communities voted in mayors who promised development wouldn't happen without plenty of green space attached.

Though there are no comprehensive plans, here's a look at a few communities that have made parks a priority.

Oakville

Mattamy owner Peter Gilgan
looks on happily at launch
of Mulvale's 2010 mayoral run
The most aggressive park development in the GTA is happening here, where new mayor Rob Burton (who defeated Ann Mulvale, a.k.a. "Asphalt Annie") has expanded on previous plans to incorporate parks into development.

Northern Oakville is already in the hands of developers (half for Mattamy alone), set to build in an area bordered by 9th Line in the east, Bronte Rd. in the west, Dundas St. to the south and Highway 407 to the north. But a massive tract, nearly 600 hectares, could remain green space.

"West of 16 Mile Creek and east of Bronte Rd., we will be getting 100 acres (40 hectares) of parks," says Peter Cheatley, the town's director of planning services.

Twenty per cent of that will be devoted to New Palermo Park, a replacement for the old Palermo Park, which was lost when the Dundas-Bronte intersection was expanded. It will include baseball diamonds with possibly some water features and playgrounds; work will start next summer.

More than 30 hectares will be devoted to park space in areas slightly north of New Palermo, primarily for soccer fields. Some 140 hectares, running along and to the west of the 16 Mile Creek ravine, has already been designated as the Glenorchy conservation lands.

Farther east, around Neyagawa Blvd., North Park will occupy two separate 16- to 20-hectare parcels, with more soccer fields and a multi-use indoor arena.
In addition, Oakville is going to the Ontario Municipal Board on Aug. 7 for mediation with developers, to secure 80 hectares of park space in the area and to preserve 400 hectares of conservation space in sections across north Oakville.

"We're very close on the numbers with developers," said Cheatley, who is confident Oakville will get all the green space it's seeking.

Whitby
Last year's acquisition of Cullen Gardens, a 34-hectare spread in central Whitby, marks the town's commitment to green space, part of a platform that helped new mayor Pat Perkins win last fall's election.

The town is putting a master plan together for the historic area, which will include at least 26 hectares of open space for trails, existing valley lands and recreational facilities, says Peter LeBel, the town's director of community marketing services, which oversees park design.

"We would also like to connect the area's trail systems to two adjacent conservation spaces (Heber Down to the north and Lynde Shores to the south)," LeBel said.

That's part of Whitby's goal of having green spaces with extensive trail systems connecting the town from north to south as well as east to west – something already achieved along the lakeshore by the Whitby Shores trail system.

The town's 10-year goals also include a 10- to 20-hectare park in the north, near Baldwin St. and Highway 7, which will include an aquatic centre and sports facilities.

Vaughan
Last month, the opening of the 1.62-hectare Apple Blossom Park, helped cement new mayor Linda Jackson's credentials as a green-first politician. She had pushed for the park as a councillor.

Billed as "The City Above Toronto," Vaughan has 630 hectares of park and green space. But it has also been widely criticized for its "runaway development."

The new Thornhill park reflects a new commitment to rein in development that had previously gone forward without a lot of neighbourhood parks or large outdoor recreational facilities. It includes a soccer field, lighted walking paths and separate playgrounds for children of different ages.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

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