Safety concerns spark park upgrade

Local park being revitalized to become a safe place for community and students

Highland Creek Community Park on Old Kingston Road is undergoing a major transformation.

The current project, which started late in the month of October is a three-way partnership between the Toronto Region Conservation Area (TRCA), UTSC and the City of Toronto. Patricia Newland, project manager of the TRCA, said the project was initiated to prevent a possible safety hazard in the future.

“For a couple of years, TRCA mentioned erosion on the Morningside pedestrian Bridge located on the North side of the creek, so we decided it would be important to reinstate the trail,” Newland said. “The trail is quite dangerous, so this change will reduce risk for people.”

The pedestrian bridge is blocked off in the mean time. Work on the bridge is to commence in 2014.

The major project currently underway is armourstone retaining, which means adding white blocks of rock, as there is a wall of rock falling apart. The TRCA plans to spend up to $120,000 on 2,500 tonnes of rock for the reconstruction of the wall to clear the path in the north bank, as reported in the Scarborough Mirror.

“We are focused on doing a lot of work around the area,” Newland said. “A majority of people, however, want to know when this will be finished because the path is used by many people in the community, especially students at UTSC.”

UTSC, one of the participants of the project, is the largest valley owner of the area that is closed off due to the construction. Although doing no specific damage to the student area, UTSC is keen on also participating in the reconstruction of the park.

“Students studying environmental science at UTSC have been hoping for a chance to work down in the park and also observe the area,” said Brent DuGuid, director of partnerships and legal agreements at UTSC. “This can be very hands on for them and provide them with good experience for the future fields they would want to work in.”

A positive experience has come out of the reconstruction of the area; preparation for the Pan Am games at UTSC. The campus, in fact, is prepping to build a pathway connecting the school to Morningside Ave., a project that will be handled by the TRCA as well.

The area will also be seeing a “construction boom” with half a billion dollars being spent on recreational projects through the campus that will  be complete by July of 2014.

“With all the activities done in the valley, the tennis facility and aquatic centres—it is quite amazing with how much is happening in so little time,” DuGuid said.