“Parks and revolution: Toronto residents take back their green spaces” – The Globe and Mail, August 24, 2012
by: Matthew Robinson
For nearby residents like Bernd Baldus, Toronto’s Bickford Park offers quiet, scenic relief from the unrelenting din of urban life.
But this spring, the calming scenery was tarnished when graffiti appeared, spray-painted across the rear wall of a neighbouring community centre that borders the park.
It was not the first time it had happened, and a fed-up gang of locals armed themselves and took action. The mob hauled their shovels to the park, ripped up patches of grass, and planted a thick row of trees to block the paint from view.
In years past, Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation department might have responded by tearing out the trees and issuing steep fines to the vigilante gardeners.
Instead, it gave the group its thanks – and its blessing.
The Bickford Park story is just one example of a growing trend in Toronto that has citizens devoting time, effort and money to reshaping their local green spaces. Following a model that has its roots in the U.S., local residents’ groups are assuming new hands-on roles that range from weeding gardens to finding funds for larger projects like watershed restoration. Some groups, inspired by the conservancy movement south of the border, are even going as far as leasing the land completely.
View the full article on The Globe and Mail website.