The State of Barbara Ann Scott ParkJanuary 19, 2016 | Parks & Recreation
Tucked into the centre of a high-density downtown block is a diamond in the rough. It could be a stunning diamond when revitalization plans are complete on the project, but in the meanwhile, it is an incredibly rough patch of land that has been sorely forgotten. What I’m referring to is the College Park neighbourhood’s Barbara Ann Scott Park that had long been a source of enjoyment for winter skaters and summer dog walkers, but in recent years has been neglected by the city and fallen into an incredibly embarrassing state of disrepair.
With unhealthy trees, mud patches and mini mudslides overtaking grass, crumbling brickwork and a condemned building in the centre with weeds-turned-trees growing out of the eavestroughs, Barbara Ann Scott Park must rank in Toronto as the park in one of the worst, if not the worst, conditions in the city.
The frustrating thing is that the park is supposed to be completely revamped with the $3,000,000 infusion to Section 37 funds received by the city of Toronto from Canderel, the builder behind College Park Phases 1 & 2 and Aura. In fact, the original plan was to have the construction work already underway to be nearly completed by this point, only there have been so many delays with the process. As of right now, in a best case scenario, work on the park won’t even commence until later into the second half of 2016, meaning another summer will be lost for the potential use of the park.
All of this got me thinking as I thought about how much tax revenue comes in from this one city block alone. Looking at the tax breakdown for just the residential condos on the same block as Barbara Ann Scott park, is it fair to say the following:
The Liberties (711 Bay, 717 Bay & 44 Gerrard): Approx. 370 units x $3,000/year in property tax
The Residences of College Park (761 & 763 Bay): Approx. (1180 units + 12 townhouses) x $3,000/year in property tax
Aura (386 & 388 Yonge): 985 units x $3,000/year in property tax
Estimated total annual tax revenue from residential condo owners surrounding Barbara Ann Scott Park = $7,641,000
I’d like to think that averaging $3,000/year between all of these variously sized units is fair enough, considering the smallest bachelor units on the block pay approximately $1700/year in property tax, while the larger units easily pay $6,000+/year in annual taxes. If anything, my estimation is probably on the low side.
And knowing that parks and recreation amounts made up approximately 8% of the 2015 property tax budget, what can be said for the roughly $600,000 that was collected from just the residential residents on the block, without even considering the taxes brought in from the retail and commercial area owners and tenants such as those at College Park, 777 Bay, The Shops At Aura, and other ground level spaces.
All this to say that I really question how funds are being used to maintain the park. I completely understand the perspective that with a revitalization to commence in the next year or two, it doesn’t make sense to pour funds into grandiose landscaping, but, I will say that it should still be the city’s responsibility to maintain the state of the park so that it can be enjoyed in the meanwhile by all of the residents and visitors to the neighbourhood. Right now, it’s a complete eyesore that is extremely unbecoming of a neighbourhood that has hundreds of condo units worth over one million dollars.
As it stands, Barbara Ann Scott is an unsightly blight on the neighbourhood, which will remain that way until either the city works to improve the condition of the park or the revitalization plans speed up. I’ve seen the park descend into its current state over the past 5 years or so, and would hate to see it descend even further down by enduring another summer of waiting for revitalization plans to begin.
If you are as upset about the condition as I am, particularly when reflecting on the property tax dollars you give to the city for Parks & Recreation allocations, speak up by writing to or contacting our city councillor, Kristyn Wong-Ta. Every voice helps to bring attention to this park!