PATRICIA REMY AND HEATHER WATSON – One of Transition Town’s dearest aspirations is the encouragement of Transition neighbourhoods. Most of TTP’s activity occurs in the City, so it was wonderful to learn of a project which embodies TTP’s goals and values and takes place in the County, in the Township of Douro Dummer.
The Township is doing a soft re-infrastructuring of three parks, all just off Parkhill Rd. east of the canal. Getting this far took a lot of legwork, determination, and the cooperation of several parties.
It began almost two years ago. Heather Watson was running for Council. In response to questions from residents about Clintonia Park, she went knocking on doors to gather information. It turned out that other residents of Donwood and a local school were interested in refurbishing the Maryvale and Daleview parks as well.
The older subdivisions off Parkhill are multigenerational. More senior residents are downsizing and selling their homes to young parents. Younger retirees are interested in the parks as a place to take their grandchildren when they come for a visit.
Heather was elected to Council. The other members shared her enthusiasm for local recreational space for children, youth, and seniors. There was a renewed push by Council to sell the former Donwood Community Centre property. The Centre itself had outlived its usefulness and fallen into disrepair. The building, which had become unsafe, was removed. The property had been deemed “surplus land” several years ago, but there had not been any action to sell it. The funds received for the property from the purchaser were designated by Council for the parks, aptly serving in another way for recreation and community interaction.
The project got a kick-start in June 2019 with a barbecue at Clintonia Park. Young and old from among the residents, especially that of the Kingsdale subdivision, gathered for the fête. The police, fire department and the mayor were also in attendance.
The members of the community agreed: Residents were prepared to bring sweat-equity to the project. No one wanted a high-tech, flashy space. The entrance to the park should be made more obvious, gaining in “curb appeal”. Dead trees would be removed. The slides, swings, basketball patch, and picnic shelter would all be replaced, so as to become safe for use. Beyond that, there should be as much natural green space left for the children to play freely. Only native species would be used for replanting. Curtis Creek remains, as an aunt of mine used to say, for “puddling and weddling”.
In Maryvale’s park the creek would continue to provide water for a natural skating rink in winter.
“It takes a neighborhood to raise a child,” one resident was heard to say. The neighbours of the Donwood burbs have given us a wonderful example of how Council and engaged members of the community can cooperate to everyone’s benefit.
We can all use a bit of good news like this.
Heather Watson is the Township of Douro Dummer Council member responsible for youth, parks, playgrounds and libraries. Patricia Remy is a member of the Greenzine Editorial Collective.