Have your say in the future of David Crombie Park

By Daryl Gonsalves –

One of the most well-used cor­ridors for pedestrians and cy­clists between the Downtown core and the Distillery District is the 1.6 hectare David Crom­bie Park. It can be easily coined the “spine” of the St Lawrence Neighbourhood.

Situated on The Esplanade between Jarvis and Berkeley Street, the park features a ball diamond, basketball court, a dog off-leash area, two chil­dren’s playgrounds and a wad­ing pool.

Even Simu Lee, a famous actor from the Greater Toron­to Area, noted David Crombie Park as a great place to play bas­ketball when he was paying trib­ute to Toronto. Urbanists hail the surrounding neighbourhood as the “gold standard” for mixed development. The community accommodates mixed-income, mixed-use, pedestrian-friend­ly streetscape anchored by the park as the focal point.

The park is named after David Crombie, a past mayor of To­ronto who held office for three consecutive terms from 1972 to 1978. Crombie oversaw and took a leadership position in the redevelopment of the neigh­bourhood around the park.

According to the Toronto Star, this new neighbourhood was the first purpose-built mixed-in­come community that was con­structed with a variety of public and private buildings including co-ops, public housing, condos and apartment buildings. There was even a focus on affordable housing as certain units were subsidized.

Crombie’s leadership and the resulting success of the commu­nity inspired certain elements of the redevelopment of Regent Park and Lawrence Heights. Given the end-of-life cycle for many of David Crombie Park’s hard infrastructure, significant refurbishment is currently re­quired today.

From the fall of 2018, the City of Toronto has completed sever­al rounds of community engage­ment and finalized the revitali­zation project’s design based on the feedback heard. The final re­port was published in May 2021 and can be found on the City’s website. If readers are interest­ed in knowing what is to come, key highlights include; focusing on greenery, creating a sense of community, integrating in­digenous elements, developing a variety of pedestrian friendly areas which envisions establish­ing a new central plaza in place of the baseball diamond at Sher­bourne Street.

The next phase of work in­cludes construction of the design that was finalized in May 2021. To minimize service disruption during construction, some are­as of David Crombie Park will remain open. The City’s ten­tative schedule plans to start procurement in 2023/2024 with construction scheduled for late 2024. City staff are taking care to ensure the park revitaliza­tion is delivered effectively and seamlessly integrated alongside the ongoing cycle track im­provements on The Esplanade.

As someone who frequently walks and bikes along David Crombie Park, I am excited about what comes next along­side the nearby Ontario Line station being constructed near the First Parliament Site. The City of Toronto is hosting an en­gagement session on August 11, 2023, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. to help residents learn more about the revitalization project.

People can meet the City’s project team through a pop-up in David Crombie Park at 131 The Esplanade, under the blue tent between the wading pool and Frederick Street. the bridge encourages readers to partici­pate and have your voice heard.