Concession Stands in High Park to be studied and improved in Five Year Plan

The following description of the project comes from the Office for Urbanism, the private planning firm that has been retained to carry out the study. Note that public input is being sought. There is a contact address below and the BWVRA is looking at asking the firm to make a presentation and answer questions at a public meeting on High Park.

officeforurbanism – antonio gómez-palacio

We are at the outset of a new and exciting process.

Over the next few years, the Grenadier Group will be upgrading their facilities and services by improving their concession stands, amenity spaces and by enhancing programming. With a 25 year history in the park, The Grenadier Group operates all concessions in High Park, Sir Casimir Gzowski Park, and Sunnyside Park.

This is the beginning of what will be a long-term visioning exercise.

The Grenadier Group has initiated a consultation process with City Staff, the local councillor, area residents and a broad array of stakeholders. These events have provided an initial opportunity to kick-start the process with the public, to receive and document feedback, and to identify constraints and opportunities. Input received will be further used to refine key principles for the development of a concept plan.

Already, input received points at the true potential of an enhanced vision for High Park and Sunnyside. Some of the emerging goals include:

1. Publicly Accessible
All concessions should remain accessible to the public at large, (e.g. children, families, seniors, abled, disabled… everyone). No entry/user fees be charged for any space.

1. Year-round 24 / 7 / 12
Currently the parks are best used during the daytime, weekends and summer months. The potential for enhanced use during evenings, weekdays and the winter – the times when the parks are currently underutilized – will be explored. The Grenadier Group proposes to adapt and enhance spaces/uses/programming such that they are well used at all times, and during all seasons.

2. Respect for the natural environment
Respect for the natural environment will continue to be a clear priority for many park users, and the Grenadier Group will continue to work with users to further protect and enhance the natural environment.

3. Safe
The safer people feel the more will come to the parks, and correspondingly, the more people come, the better the parks will be used, and the safer the parks will be.

4. Connect High Park to the Waterfront to Neighbourhoods to the City
High Park and the waterfront are perceived as separate when in fact they are adjacent. Pedestrian connections across the Queensway and train tracks are limited and unpleasant. There is a clear potential for an enhanced system of trails, wayfinding and signalization, and enhanced physical and visual connections.

5. Diversify: different spaces for different people
A wide range of users (morning commuters, families, joggers, seniors, children, couples…) should translate into a wide range of space types throughout the different concessions (restaurant, coffee shop, playground, eatery, bistro, passive, active, economical, fast, slow, indoor, outdoor…).

6. Complete a Destination
The parks are already local and city-wide assets, attracting people from close and far. Missing are some of the services that cater to people when they do arrive (e.g. support for winter activities).

7. Remember
Particularly with Sunnyside Pavilion, but also in other areas of the parks, there is a strong sense of history attached to the concessions. A priority is to re-live the former glory and renew the legacy.

8. Increase Value
City properties are underutilized and deteriorating. Significant investments will be made to City owned buildings, resulting in an increased number of visitors, which in turn will result in an increased enjoyment of City parks.

9. Collaborative
A clear commitment by the Grenadier Group (as demonstrated over their 25 year presence in the park) and of interest to many residents and stakeholders is a continuation of a consultative process.

A key objective of the initial consultation has been to identify all people who are knowledgeable of the park, are interested to contribute ideas, and keen to be involved in the process. Anyone interested can be added to the growing contact list by contacting me at Office for Urbanism.

Contact Antonio Gomez-Palacio (416 971 7521) for more information