Josh Matlow wants to know what you’d like to see at Davisville’s newest parks.
The Ward 22 councillor, who played leading roles in brokering the city’s purchases of both the former Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club and part of Manor Road United Church, is holding a meeting on Feb, 27 to get residents’ ideas.
“Rather than city hall designing the parks from top down, I’d like to see the community involved in designing their own parks,” Matlow says. “They’re the ones that are going to be using them.”
Both sites have long development histories.
For three years after its 2013 closure, the former Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club at 196 Manor Rd. E. was at the centre of a long, bitter feud with developer Michael Volpentesta, who purchased the property, on one side, and residents and the city on the other. The city finally managed to buy 80 percent of the site last year.
The agreement between the city and Manor Road United Church to convert 40 percent of the land at 240 Manor Rd. E. into green space was a more amicable one. But finalizing the arrangement, which included plans to demolish a building added in the 1950s, required a long approval process that lasted several months.
Fortunately, in a break with the city’s typical pace of development, the upcoming meeting will be the second in three months regarding the new parks. At the first, held on Dec. 6, 2016, city staff sought community suggestions for the new green spaces without preparing blueprints or renderings in advance.
“I didn’t want to present any prescribed plans for what the parks should look like,” Matlow explains. “We wanted a truly organic conversation with the community about what their vision for the parks would be. I went out with a consultant and our park staff, and we just talked.”
One clear message emerged, Matlow says: given the proximity of the two parks, one should be optimized for seniors while the other should be designed for children and youth.
With those guiding principles in mind, city staff and their partners have been designing variations of the two parks to reflect the ideas brought forward by the community.
“It’s a great process, and we’ve gotten some really creative feedback,” Matlow says, though he declines to share any proposed features in advance. He’d rather the residents who attend the next meeting have the first say.
The Davisville parks meeting will be held on Feb. 27 at Manor Road United Church at 6:30 PM.