Erwin Krickhahn Park expansion

Today's Toronto Star has an article about controversial expansion of Erwin Krickhahn Park, at the corner of Rankin Cres. and Paton Rd.: Battle brewing: Garden or park space?

This issue has been posted and discussed several times before on this site, so please read those threads for background information before commenting here again.

A quick recap: In September 2009, City Council approved the expansion of Erwin Krickhahn Park into the dead and of Paton Rd. on the north side of the park. In the Fall, City work crews removed the asphalt and installed a new sidewalk adjacent to the new park land. Soil has been tested at the new park space and has been found to contain some "contaminants consistent with a roadway". Environmental remediation of these contaminants is expected to happen.

There are several options for using this new park space: It could be grassed over to expand the field area of the park, it could be planted with trees and other plants, a community garden can be installed there, or other options. The community garden proposal is the most controversial of these ideas. Councillor Adam Giambrone has promised to hold a community meeting this Spring so that residents and city staff can discuss these ideas and come up with the most suitable plan.

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Links Discussing Urban Green Spaces

FYI: links discussing urban green spaces, whether it's park space or community gardening -- both have their positive points.
Evergreen is a not-for-profit organization that makes cities more livable. By deepening the connection between people and nature, and empowering Canadians to take a hands-on approach to their urban environments, Evergreen is improving the health of our cities—now and for the future.

The health of Canada's cities depends on our ability to sustain green spaces that provide a natural refuge for our minds and bodies within the reality of on-going urban development.

Many municipalities and community groups are exploring how they can come together to protect and restore urban and suburban green spaces.

Evergreen's team of Evergreen's team of ecologists, environmental educators, urban planners, social workers, community animators and food gardening specialists has a proven ability to conserve, regenerate and sustain nature in urban environments.
City of Toronto
Reducing urban hunger in Ontario: policy responses to support the transition from food charity to local food security.

In the past 15 years, our perceptions of food banks have changed dramatically. First seen by policy makers and the general public as an emergency, short-term and caring response to what was supposed to be a time-limited hunger problem, they are now viewed, at least implicitly and often reluctantly, as one of the cornerstones of society's anti-hunger and anti-poverty strategy. Although there is much talk about eliminating the need for them, concrete strategies to effect such an outcome remain elusive.

In this discussion paper we present an evolutionary series of policy initiatives designed to reduce the need for food banks. These initiatives recognize both the government's fiscal dilemmas and the responsibility of many sectors of society for both the current problem and the potential solutions.
Sustainable Food
Low-income urban areas in the U.S. have poor food access, high rates of obesity, diabetes and asthma, high unemployment levels, and populations with low levels of education and little or no job training. Grassroots urban agriculture projects provide important, if small scale, relief for all of these issues. Rates of obesity and diabetes are rising rapidly in low-income areas due in part to lack of access to healthy food. Some cities and states address food poverty and access issues with food policy councils that look at physical food access and public food procurement.
Food Inc.
In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment.

Grant for Green Thumbs

The Perth Dupont Community Garden is entering its fifth year as a local green spot where residents from the area can grow food and flowers. The Community Garden has just received a grant from the Carrot Cache to build a structure around their garden shed which will make the garden more accessible for the disabled.

A lot of good things come from the garden including almost 180 kilograms of food each year for the Stop Community Food Centre, a local food bank that provides access to food for people in need.

Located just feet from the CP rail tracks, the Perth Dupont Community Garden brings people to the Symington Avenue Playground/Park and helps keep the area clean and safe. You can learn more about this great initiative at

Gardens and Rats

If the Symington Garden is only a few feet from the CP rail do they have the same problem with rats as the other residents keep talking about or were steps taken to reduce the problem? What were these steps?


This is from the Humane Society:

Modify Their Habitat:
Good sanitation is the best and most economic way to control rats. Follow these steps to keep rats away or to keep their numbers in check:

* Clear away any rubbish piled close to buildings to expose burrows and openings that rats might use to get in.
* Store and dispose of garbage properly, so that rats can’t get into it.
* If you feed your pets outside, leave the food out for just long enough to be eaten, and then remove it.
* Clean up pet droppings from the yard every day.
* Remove old wood or rubbish from the property since these are regular rat hangouts.

No Connection

I understand that they don't have a rat problem at the Perth/Dupont Community garden. Apparently when people throw their food garbage by the rail track, they sometimes see them, but the gardeners try to keep the area clean and pick up the rubbish whenever it appears. It is the garbage and not the garden. Keeping it clean is the key.

keeping it clean

That seems like a crucial point here -- where there are gardens, there is very likely less garbage. Partly because it is more regularly maintained than an ordinary park, by the gardeners themselves, and maybe even because people are less likely to dump their chip bags and pop cans where things are growing. Maybe I'm naive but it makes sense to me. I have also heard from friends who garden at Dupont that there is no rat problem. In a well-maintained garden, that should be the case. We have a garden in our backyard and there are no rats there either!

Board of Health Endorses Community Gardens To Fight Poverty

The "Urban Food Strategy", of which Toronto is a world leader, has been unveiled by the Toronto Board of Health.

"Food programs, community gardens, communal food education. Those kinds of things can help the city to achieve its objectives in terms of addressing the needs of inner-city communities."

Board of Health wants people to have better access to quality food

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail Published on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010 12:00AM EST Last updated on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010 4:15AM EST

David McKeown is out to change the way you think about food. What you eat, where it comes from, where you buy it and how you consume it.

Toronto's Board of Health is unveiling a wide-ranging food strategy whose broad and lofty goals include creating "food-friendly neighbourhoods," connecting city-dwelling consumers to rural producers and eliminating hunger.

The strategy, which goes before the Board of Health today, is the most ambitious attempt yet by any Canadian city to reform a local food system that simply isn't doing its job when it comes to feeding residents: A higher proportion of families in the Toronto area can't afford to feed themselves properly than in almost any other city in Canada; at the same time, child obesity rates continue to skyrocket; the region's vaunted Greenbelt is witnessing an agricultural exodus as farmers seek out greener, more profitable pastures.

Dr. McKeown, Toronto's medical officer of health, emphasizes it's early days: This strategy is a policy paper only - with a mandate from the Board of Health, the food strategy's backers hope months of consultation will let them bring specific recommendations to city council in June.

One of its models: a patch of ground by a running track outside Sir Sandford Fleming high school in Lawrence Heights.

These 2,700 square metres were transformed last spring from a scrubby vacant lot into a garden plot designed to grow way more than tomatoes and squash.

The garden, created and tended to largely by students, is becoming a community-building hub in one of the city's most neglected neighbourhoods. It gave almost 1,360 kilograms of produce to the North York Harvest last year. Grade 9 geography classes have done work there, alongside Grade 12 biochemistry. An art class is setting up shop, as is a new food and nutrition class. PACT, the community program behind the garden, hopes to expand it to several other schools this year in partnership with the Toronto District School Board.

There's a role for the city in fostering initiatives like this, Dr. McKeown says.

"The food system that we have now, broadly, was developed in the postwar period and was really designed to keep prices low and maximize the amount of food that goes out there. But that food, despite the fact that food prices are relatively low historically, is still not affordable for people who are of low income."

Almost 20 years after the city created one of North America's first food councils, Toronto still has glaring food deserts - areas where there's simply nowhere to buy decent food nearby. That's one obvious area where the city can play an active role, Dr. McKeown says, by using zoning bylaws to encourage grocery stores to set up shop in neighbourhoods that are lacking.

But he sees a much larger role for a municipal government that already spends $11-million a year on food.

"People usually don't think of municipal governments being big players in food systems. But in fact there's a number of levers that city governments have," he said.

"Food programs, community gardens, communal food education. Those kinds of things can help the city to achieve its objectives in terms of addressing the needs of inner-city communities."

But University of Toronto geography professor Pierre Desrochers argues this overarching food strategy is a "pie in the sky" way of trying to address real needs. If the city wants to tackle poverty, he says, it should look at economic development. Childhood obesity? Bring back home economics and mandatory gym class. But Prof. Desrochers is adamant that a renewed city focus on local food will accomplish neither.

"There are such things as economies of scale in food production," he said. "They want to replace professionalized, large-scale food systems with grassroots-oriented [programs] that won't be able to do it as efficiently. ... You'll end up paying more for your food. How is that helping poor people?"


Taking the lead

Belo Horizonte

The Brazilian city of about two million is arguably the most advanced in the world when it comes to an integrated municipal food strategy, said Ryerson University professor Cecilia Rocha.

It boasts a department devoted to food security and policy, enshrining food security as a right of citizenship. The city's food programs reach more than 800,000 people daily, subsidizing fruit and vegetable sales, providing public-school meal programs and co-ordinating healthy, low-cost meals in restaurants.


The British metropolis unveiled its food strategy in 2006, tackling poverty, obesity and the carbon footprint created getting meals onto residents' plates. The plan's eight stages went from primary production (the city would focus on UK agriculture, its strategy vowed) to disposal (by 2016, composting would rule and food-related waste would be reduced). Using city planning to improve access to food was also a priority. The city has attempted to create economic links between urban buyers and farmers elsewhere in the UK and has beefed up its school meals programs.


A 2006 Vancouver Coastal Health three-year action plan was created to address gaps in food security. Goals included adding services to areas outside the notoriously needy, but relatively densely serviced, Downtown Eastside; to enhance residents' ability to grow and cook their own food; enhancing the food economy by supporting local farmers and "increasing the potential for food-related social enterprise."


A food strategy going before the city's Board of Health today sets out six goals for revamping the city's food system -- to grow food-friendly neighbourhoods, make food part of the city's "green economy;" eliminate hunger in Toronto; better inform residents (through labelling, for example); to connect city-dwellers with rural producers and "embed food system thinking in city government." The board plans to bring concrete recommendations before city council in June.


I love this neighbourhood and it needs more green. Our family currently participates in a community garden in the area and anything that can be done to help reverse the industrial contamination of the past in this area is a postive contribution to the future. The space is a blank canvas and everyone in the community would benefit from any type of greening. Whether it is partially for gardening, partially for sheer community enjoyment, I would totally support a green space here!

Our Area Keeps Getting Cleaner and Greener

Nobody would be against removing (and treating) more contaminated soil from our area, especially in a park or next to residences. The remediation at the old Alcan site (Tower) and Glidden site are major steps to making our area safe from pollutants that linger from the past.

The Bloor/Dundas Ave. Study commissioned by the City, asked for by residents, released last year identified our area as one that needed more parks, gardens, and green spaces. This study looked at our Triangle as part of their study area and it is clear that we need more green.

Who could be against clean and green, besides Metrolinx that is.

green space

I for one would love to see a community garden go in here. But if that doesn't happen, I'm also happy with more green space in any form. We were relative newcomers and not involved much in the community when the last garden controversy erupted, but I understand it got very heated. We have friends who have a plot just north of Dupont, beside the tennis courts, and it's wonderful to see how the garden becomes a big part of their family life from spring to fall -- the dad pulling a load of squash home in the kids' wagon.

Gardens don’t just make food – they make delicious, nutritious food that isn’t wrapped in plastic. By growing our own vegetables, we save money, we make less waste, we get exercise, we relieve our stresses, we clean the air, we compost, we show our children (and ourselves) the cycle from seed to seedpod, and we interact with each other. I don’t see a downside in any of that. But if there are concerns about a community garden, we should discuss them here and try to address them in a thorough manner so we all know what the advantages and disadvantages are.

“Gardening is the best alternative therapy.” Germaine Greer

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood