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  • 08 Apr 2016 11:36 AM | Kate Kennedy (Administrator)

    Councillor Paul Ainslie

    Toronto City Council Scarborough East - Ward 43

    Chair, Government Management Committee

    Date: March 23, 2016
    To: Economic Development Committee 

    Re: Nuit Blanche

    Nuit Blanche has had a positive effect on the City of Toronto and visitors who attended the spectacular event. The City of Toronto reported last fall that through an Ipsos Reid survey Nuit Blanche 2015 "generated an economic impact of about $41.5 million for Toronto...with an estimated attendance of over one million people, including 205,000 out-of-town visitors."

    As the planning for the Nuit Blanche 2016 is underway, I would like to take this opportunity to expand the experience into Scarborough for the 2017 season, specifically in the Guild Park and Gardens. The gardens would accommodate the event perfectly. Within its 88 acres stands a Greek amphitheater, several monuments and artifacts from great buildings across Ontario including a historical monument walk installed last year by our City Cultural division. The Guild Park and Gardens would be the perfect setting to expand the Nuit Blanch experience east of the City and is supported by the Guildwood Village Community Association.

    The site would be suitable for artistic installations and support visitors for the 2017 season to coincide with the revitalization for the Guild Park and Gardens and Guild Inn (Bickford Residence). The Nuit Blanche theme works well with the objectives of the Guild Park and Gardens which hosts, historical walks, an annual artist's festival, annual outdoor theatre performances. The revitalization will also bring art programs offered by the City of Toronto Cultural division.

    Recommendation:

    1. City Council direct the General Manager, Economic Development and Culture to explore including Guild Park and Gardens as a venue for Nuit Blanche 2017.

    Sincerely,

    Councillor Paul Ainslie
    City of Toronto Scarborough East Ward 43 


    Economic Development Committee Agenda Item - April 12


  • 26 Feb 2016 1:11 PM | Kate Kennedy (Administrator)

    City of Toronto Community Survey  re: Arts & Culture Programming at the Guild Park and Gardens - click here

    The City is looking for your input.  What types of art programming would you like to see at Guild Park and Gardens?  Are you interested in taking a course? Do you have an idea for the name of the new arts and culture facility?  Share you opinions and suggestions with the City. 

  • 01 Feb 2016 2:37 PM | Kate Kennedy (Administrator)

    Wood from ash trees killed by the Emerald Ash Borer has been transformed into innovative products thanks to a design competition organized by Ontario Wood, the City of Toronto and IIDEXCanada.

    More than a dozen products created from Toronto’s untapped ash wood resource are on display this week at the IIDEX Woodshop. Products range from outdoor lounge chairs to toy building blocks to wall-mounted bicycle stands.

    Guild Park was among the places ravaged by this invasive insect. About 3,000 ash trees were cut down in Guild Park due to a combination of the Emerald Ash Borer and damage from the 2014 ice storm. An estimated 200,000 ash trees across the city will be lost in the next 5 years due to this infestation .

    This year's "Woodshop aims to reduce the number of ash trees headed for the landfill by creating innovative, market-ready commercial and consumer prototypes," according to event organizers.
    The IIDEX Woodshop runs from today (Jan 18) through Sunday Jan 24 at the main Rotunda at Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West. Admission is free.

    More info is available at: http://todesignoffsite.com/event/iidex-woodshop/


  • 18 Nov 2015 7:09 PM | Kate Kennedy (Administrator)
    At the Nov. 17th Community Information Meeting about Guild Park, below are some of highlights from the question and answer session between the 150 attendees and City of Toronto officials. The session was chaired by Toronto City Councillor Paul Ainslie: 

    • Future traffic congestion along Guildwood Parkway for entering and exiting the park: The City will conduct traffic studies and was asked to consider traffic lights; reducing vehicle speed and creating bus lay-bys or “cut-aways.” Guildwood parkway will remain two lanes. 

    • Construction timeline for the new restaurant facility: The most optimistic estimate is approximately 12 months after actual construction start.

    • Displays of Guild Inn-related items/memorabilia: More than 1,500 items collected from the old Guild operations are being stored and catalogued; the City will work with Dynamic to arrange some way to display these items;

    • Why the modern design, with flat roofs, used for the new buildings (see image), when the original Guild Inn architecture is more old-fashioned: The low-rise design met the City’s heritage standards.


    Restaurant and event facility details: The restaurant is planned to be “bistro-style”; maximum capacity for events is approx. 800; on-site parking space is for 292 cars. The parking will be free and include spots allocated for park visitors who are not patrons of the restaurant/event facility.

    • Availability of meeting space for community use: A series of rooms will be available. Some smaller rooms will be in the restored Guild Inn building; up to 50% of the use in the new event facility will be by community groups. Sinks and stoves will be available. Certain facilities will be rented out at rates charged at comparable City facilities.

    • Community library at Guild Park: Financial and environment constraints prevent building a library in Guild Park. Councillor Ainslie confirmed that the local library branch “at this point, stays where it is” in the Guildwood Plaza.

    • Public washroom: Facilities for park visitors are included in plans for the restaurant and as part of the new arts centre. Access to washrooms will be managed to correspond with usual visitor times and with public events at Guild Park.

    • Tree planting will continue in Guild Park. Work continues to control invasive species (such as dog-strangling vine) in the park, especially in the places designated as “environmentally-sensitive areas.”

    • Walkways and parking access: Near the new restaurant facilities, walkways are designed for access by people with disabilities and maintained to meet the City of Toronto’s accessibility regulations. The existing path connecting Guild Park with the waterfront is being kept open but doesn’t currently meet accessibility standards. 

    • More appropriate names for buildings, areas and features in Guild Park: Many of the names used for park features (such as “Building 191”, “the road behind the theatre”, “the east parking lot”) fail to reflect the legacy of Guild Park and its history. Consideration of this can be part of the upcoming Arts & Culture community meeting on Dec 16.

    • Access to information about the various plans and studies about Guild Park: The 97-page Guild Park Management Plan is available in the reference section of the libraries at Guildwood, Cedarbrae and Morningside. It is also available online at:https://www1.toronto.ca/City%20Of%20Toronto/Parks%20Forestry%20&%20Recreation/02Parks%20and%20Trails/Park%20Projects%20and%20Improvements/Files/pdf/Guild%20Park%20and%20Gardens%20Management%20Plan.pdf
    Preliminary architectural proposals for the restaurant facilities are available at the Guildwood library. City officials committed to make available to the public the other reports and material mentioned at the Nov. 17 public meeting that are non-confidential.


  • 17 Sep 2015 1:14 PM | Anonymous

    We're pleased to announce that the Halloween event will be taking place at Guild Park Sat. Oct 24. The Guildwood Business Networking Group stepped in to organize the event this year, with support from local Councillor Paul Ainslie.

    Below are details as supplied by Councillor Ainslie:

    Councillor Paul Ainslie and the Guildwood Business Networking Group present: A Halloween Haunting at the Guild Saturday, October 24th from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm

    On the grounds of the Guild Park and Gardens in front of the Greek Theater.

    Follow the trail to trick or treating tables where you’ll find activities and, of course, receive a treat … or is it a trick?

    Take part in the pumpkin decorating contest, there will be prizes and you can take your creation home with you!

    11:00 – 11:30 Pet Costume Contest brought to you by our friends at Muddy Paws 
    11:30 – 12:00 Children’s Costume Contest for ages 5 and under 
    12:00 – 12:30 Performances by local theatre, dance or music group 
    12:45 – 1:00 Children’s Costume Contest for ages 8 and under 
    1:00 – 1:30 Performance by local theatre, dance or music group 
    1:30 – 2:00 Children’s Costume Contest for ages 13 and under 
    This is a free event, rain or shine! 


    *Please note due to the construction on the grounds of the park there will be limited on-site parking available.


  • 05 Jun 2014 1:05 PM | Anonymous

    Update: the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

    Another successful shoreline cleanup was held at Guild Park & Gardens on Saturday May 10th. 

    28 people, including all three local politicians and a group from Laurier (a teacher and 8 students), cleaned approximately 2 km of path, roadway, and shoreline going east (about the same as last fall). We collected 41.94 kg garbage and 8.84 kg recyclables (about 111 pounds).

    The ‘dirty dozen’ collected was: tiny plastic pieces, tiny glass pieces, plastic bottle caps, tiny foam pieces, other plastic/foam, straws/stirrers, plastic beverage bottles, plastic cutlery, cigarette lighters, food wrappers, cigar tips, and toys. 

    The most interesting item collected was a candle.

    We would like to thank the three local elected politicians who came out to help: MP John McKay, MPP Mitzie Hunter, and Councillor Paul Ainslie as well as the group from Sir Wilfrid Laurier C.I.

    Also, thanks to the City of Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation Department, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Guildwood Village Community Association, and the office of Councillor Ainslie for their support.

    And thank-you Guildwood Valu-Mart for providing the water and snacks for the volunteers!

    And remember, mark your calendars for the Fall Shoreline Cleanup on Saturday September 20th
  • 16 Mar 2014 1:03 PM | Anonymous

    Tree Cutting in Guild Park
    Public Recommendations & Information Sheet

    Published March 16, 2014

    Sad to say, the amount of tree cutting under-way at Guild Park has been dramatic in the past month. It’s extremely unfortunate that a combination of factors have converged on Guild Park to cause so much damage and so much tree cutting in such a short span of time.

    This information sheds additional light on an issue that’s complicated, expensive and emotional. This is based on various sources and is distributed to give the public and others background about the large amount of tree cutting now underway at Guild Park. Our Board Members recommend three IMMEDIATE ACTION STEPS for the City of Toronto to take to ensure the long-term revitalization of Guild Park.

    RECOMMENDATIONS

    1. The City Forestry Department to:
      • Keep the public informed on the work at Guild Park. In the short-term, ensure informed staff are at Guild Park and/or easily accessible to provide current information about operations on-site.
      • Begin regular contact with Guild Park stakeholder groups. These organizations are bringing more activity and visitors to Guild Park. As park “clients”, these groups are committed to revitalizing Guild Park. They also bring informed views on park issues from a citizen and user perspective. Initiate regular meetings and stay in close communication with stakeholders from: Friends of Guild Park & Gardens, the Guildwood Village Community Association, The Guild Renaissance Group, the Guild Festival Theatre, and other like-minded organizations. Such groups serve as Guild Park’s informal ambassadors and communicate effectively to their networks of thousands of members and supporters. The better informed they are, the better the public can contribute positively to Guild Park’s future.
      • Hold a series of public meetings before and during each major step/milestone of forestry work. Do this in partnership with the local City Councillor and Guild Park stakeholder groups (identified above). Information to include park operations and work schedules, public access in the park, tree replanting and other items. Hold these meetings at times and places convenient to interested citizens, notably Guildwood residents.
      • Engage the public in future tree-related projects. These are activities appropriate for citizen involvement, such as ground clearing, tree planting and watering. Such volunteer projects are already done at other Toronto parks, in cooperation with existing City staff and operations.
    2. The City of Toronto to:
      • Provide the public with relevant information about the Guild Park restaurant proposal. This would be general, non-proprietary information, such as conceptual plans. Release details that won’t affect the City’s ongoing negotiations but show how the proposal will augment the park.
    3. The City of Toronto, along with other Guild Park stakeholders, to:
      • Create a long-term (20 year+), strategic management plan for Guild Park. This public plan and process to be modeled on best practices used to revitalize similar multi-use public spaces, such as New York City’s Central Park. The process covers all aspects of Guild Park – its ecology, legacy and uses. It includes a streamlined decision-making process, based on meaningful and ongoing input from people interested in the Guild Park’s current operations and its future revitalization. Participants to include:
      • the City of Toronto’s relevant departments;
      • citizens, especially volunteer groups that are Guild Park stakeholders;
      • public/private organizations with an interest in active partnerships;
      • other park/public space professionals; and
      • relevant agencies and stakeholders from other levels of government.

    ITEMS OF INTEREST

    Why are so many trees being cut?

    The devastation by the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) at Guild Park and elsewhere in the city has been extensive. The large percentage of native ash trees growing in Guild Park (up to 60% of the forest canopy) caused this 88-acre park, and the surrounding treed neighbourhood, to be hit hard. The dire predictions made as early as three years ago by City of Toronto foresters have come true.

    The December 2013 ice storm made this bad situation much worse. Ice collected on the branches and trunks of the already dead and dying ash trees in Guild Park. The weight broke hundreds of these trees and branches. The falling ash trees also damaged nearby healthy trees of all shapes and sizes. Some broken trees and branches caused “snags” so the damaged trunks and branches remained precariously balanced at risk of hitting the ground at any time.

    These series of factors created an extremely dangerous situation, especially in a popular park that’s open for public use 24/7.

    Forestry in parks requires science AND art

    Managing forest land is a long-term project based on both science (ecology, biology, geology, etc.) and aesthetics. Dealing with the underlying science and cutting practices of how the trees are managed requires specialized knowledge and information. 

    In a popular place such as Guild Park, aesthetics are more obvious and important to park users. Most people understand that a forested park must be managed to sustain its entire eco-system and for public safety and enjoyment. This means park officials must pay attention to both science and aesthetics.

    On the science side, City of Toronto officials responded to the Guild Park forest crisis by creating an EAB management plan. This includes the cutting and removing of the dead, damaged and at-risk trees, plus subsequent replanting of native tree species and the care of these new trees. The decisions made in this plan were based on the knowledge and professional opinion of the city’s urban forestry staff and considered the overall ecology of Guild Park.

    According to the plan, tree cutting and removal are done while the ground is cold. This minimizes the soil damage that occurs if tree felling and using heavy equipment is done in warmer weather. Also, work in the winter minimizes, though it doesn't eliminate, disturbance to native and migratory wildlife.

    The management plan also considered how people use the park. Tree cutting is an opportunity to create space for better trails and other areas of the park. At this stage, second-guessing the decisions and sources used as the basis of those decisions is outside the scope of this information sheet.

    Right now, it’s very apparent that aesthetics at Guild Park are taking a back-seat to the cutting, clearing and removal of the trees. According to the City’s plan, this is for the short-term. Future steps for the operation call for removing the felled logs, clearing away the brush and replanting the site. Weather and logistics have delayed removing the logs so that part of the plan is behind schedule.

    We note that other parks in Toronto already include public participation for certain aspects of the tree-replanting and care process. In fact, private funding/sponsorship is available through various programs (promoted by the City’s park Partnership Development Unit) for tree-planting in city parks. This aspect of regenerating suitable tree cover in Guild Park with public help isn't part in the City’s current forest management plan for Guild Park. We recommend this be included. (See recommendations above.)

    Is all this tree-cutting activity at Guild Park related to building a new restaurant?

    Negotiations are currently under-way between City of Toronto officials and a private company (Dynamic Hospitality and Entertainment) to develop a restaurant/banquet facility on the grounds of Guild Park.

    These negotiations remain confidential between the City and Dynamic for building a 20,000- to 24,000‑square foot facility using a portion of the Guild Inn that remains standing. This confidential process has continued for more than a year, without public reporting or accountability.

    It’s impossible to know whether or not the current tree cutting is related to Dynamic’s plans. Therefore this is a valid concern. The latest information (February 2014) made public about these plans referred to a confidential attachment, which may or may include site and building plans. If site plans were released, that information would show whether or not tree cutting is needed for building a proposed restaurant.

    No mention of the restaurant plan was made when the current forest management plan for Guild Park was presented by Toronto Forestry officials at the public meeting on January 9th 2014. That presentation focused entirely on the cutting operations at Guild Park and nearby South Marine Park. The City of Toronto can address this concern immediately by providing the public with relevant information on the Guild Park restaurant proposal. (See recommendations above.)

    What’s ahead for Guild Park?

    No one is sure. After decades of neglect, the fate of Guild Park is unknown. Reaction to the current tree-cutting shows what happens when major work is done in the absence of a long-term plan covering all aspects of Guild Park – a plan that includes meaningful public input, ongoing communication and accountability.

    Urban forests and public parks are too valuable to be left without long-term planning and ongoing management. The massive tree-cutting under-way at Guild Park is also, in part, caused by decades of neglect to the entire site. When nature conspired to wreck havoc on Guild Park’s tree cover, the resulting remedial work was drastic and dramatic. Addressing Guild Park’s issues in a piece-meal, reactive way causes other problems, such as:

    • the public and other potential park supporters lack information on which to make informed opinions about how the park is maintained and operated;
    • important, non-urgent work for the park’s existing features get overlooked for decades;
    • plans for major park improvements that require long-term commitments are made, then left unstarted. The latest example is the 2009 plan for a cultural centre and park improvements. The City has approved partial, long-term funding for this plan, yet has taken no action.

    Call for “whole park” plan of action

    Best practices exist to operate, upgrade and revitalize major parks. Among the most successful is the long-term work done to restore Central Park in New York City. This work was initiated by a citizen’s non-profit group (the Central Park Conservancy), endorsed and strongly supported by the City of New York and financially supported by interested private and public organizations.  Out of Guild Park’s current devastation comes an opportunity to launch a long-term (20 year+), strategic action plan for the entire site. For such a process and plan to succeed, it requires meaningful and ongoing input from:

    • citizen and public/private organizations that are inspired to be active partners in future activities at, and related to, Guild Park’s revitalization;
    • informed park/public space professionals;
    • committed public policy-makers at the City of Toronto, and at other government levels and agencies involved in Guild Park. (See recommendations above.)
    Please email any comments or questions to guildparknews@gmail.com.
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