News & Opinion

Jean Sibelius Square Park official opening Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 3:30PM

In Coming events, Heritage & History, The West Annex on June 4, 2012 at 8:05 PM

The new entrance at the north-east corner of Brunswick and Wells Avenues.

By West Annex News | After years of community consultation and construction,  a revitalized Sibelius Square is ready for its coming out party.

The park’s official opening will be held this Sunday, June 10th. Live music starts at 3:30PM, with remarks from Councillor Adam Vaughan and others at 4:15PM, followed by a free barbecue.

Public consultation for Sibelius Square’s redesign June 18, 2008, Working Group Chair Patrick Kennedy at right.

The opening is a chance to thank the neighbours who brought the redesign to fruition: Patrick Kennedy, the steadfast chair of the working group, together with group members Ginny Brett, Fred Freedman, Tom Friedland, Caroline Harvey, Julie Markle, Kristina Reinders, and Ted Watson.

Together they spent six years consulting with the community, and wrangling with off-leash dog advocates, city bureaucrats, and the city-imposed landscape architects. The result is the park’s refreshed playground, field house, playing field, pathways and central plaza.

The natural skating rink on the west field of Jean Sibelius Square Park, 2010

Also present at the opening will be Brian Green, City Parks supervisor. Brian devoted hours of his personal time to the much-loved Sibelius Square natural skating rink to ensure its survival after the City stopped maintaining the rink in the late 1990s. He trained the community volunteers who now build and flood the rink each year.

Community volunteers Simon Freedman, Fred Freedman and Tom Friedland building the Sibelius Square natural skating rink in January 2011

Sibelius Square was at a low ebb in 2006 after a failed off-leash dog experiment left the park almost deserted, with its playing fields devoid of grass, a magnet for local drug dealers.

Kennedy enlisted the support of newly elected councillor Adam Vaughan to use section 37 monies from a nearby Walmer Road development for the community-lead redesign.

Councillor Adam Vaughan, left, at the Gwendolyn MacEwan Park re-opening July 20, 2010

Vaughan has made community-lead design and control of local parks a cornerstone of his tenure at City Hall. Several major parks in Ward 20 are being re-designed and re-constructed with local residents making the design decisions. Sibelius Square is the third Annex park to complete this process, with a renewed Gwendolyn MacEwan park opening in 2010, and Taddle Creek Park in 2011.

Sibelius Square Park, then known as Kendal Square, on October 9, 1913

The City purchased the lands of the park–bounded by Wells, Brunswick, Kendal and Bernard– in 1906 and named it Kendal Square.

The park in July of 1939

The city renamed the 1.22 acre park after the composer Jean Sibelius in 1956, after City Council was lobbyied by members of the Toronto Finnish community.

 

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Other related articles:

St. Alban’s Square: A historical primer

Sibelius, St. Alban’s Squares to face further attacks from off-leash advocates

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