Park enthusiast wonders how public will get to new Don Valley super park

Toronto Mayor John Tory speaking at press conference, Tuesday, to announce latest phase in Don River Valley super park plans.
Toronto Mayor John Tory, during Tuesday press conference at Evergreen Brick Works, announcing latest phase in Don River Valley super park.

A regular visitor to Evergreen Brick Works says she wants the city to consult the public about improving transit to the city’s proposed new super park site.

At a press conference, Tuesday, Toronto Mayor John Tory announced that the city will begin work on creating the Don River Valley Park. This new park will become the second largest in the city and incorporate the Evergreen Brick Works site.

Mary Beth Daellenbach said she visits the ravine almost every day with her dog, April. Though she looks forward to the planned new park space, she hopes the city will create transit infrastructure to improve access.

“I think if council is listening to the right people on how to do this, to try and preserve …  (I think) better public transit … will make it possible,” Daellenbach said.

The proposed 480-acre park will include lands in the Don River Valley stretching from the Brick Works south to the mouth of the river on Lake Ontario. Donors have pledged about $3.5 million for this phase of the park.

However, the Evergreen Brick Works site is serviced by a single TTC bus route, the 28 Bayview South, which operates every day of the week. In an interview, TTC spokesperson Kadeem Griffiths said the TTC does not plan to build new infrastructure to the new park site.

“It’s too soon to tell what the TTC can do in terms of increasing service to the Brick Works,” Griffiths said. “The servicing department, based on demand, determines which routes need increased service.”

Andy Chisholm, Don River Valley Park project chair, opened Tuesday’s upbeat press conference but recognized that getting to the new park facility would be a problem.

“Access to this area has been, historically, very difficult,” Chisholm said. “Communities that neighbour these areas … diverse socio-economic communities … have really not been able to (access) to the degree that they should.”

Mary Beth Daellenbach does not rely on public transit to visit Evergreen Brick Works; she drives her electric car now from her home in King West.

“I used to live just up the street in Rosedale. I come here almost every day; walking, hiking. My heart is here, so I keep coming back,” Daellenbach said.

Andy Chisholm said he also recognized the potential strain of greater public use in the valley region.

“We need to thoughtfully plan these spaces and to anticipate what the demands on it are likely to be. A very important part of this is the ecological integrity of the space,” he said. “You want use; you want enjoyment … I think (this park) can be a great thing.”