As part of an initiative to turn all of Ward 19 into Canada’s first Homegrown National Park, community residents Anjum Chagpar and Georgia Vdreos are looking to green Palmerston Square.
The small square, in Seaton Village, was traditionally a park space but has since lost much of its urban oasis feel. Now surrounded by some 60 houses, the square is isolated from the rest of the city, which has limited traffic but also makes it ideal for a project of this type.
“It feels quite remote and removed from the rest of the neighbourhood,” Chagpar said.
“The notion of having a green square is nice because it’s so enclosed.”
Chagpar and Vdreos, who were selected as two of 21 Park Rangers for the David Suzuki Foundation’s Homegrown National Park project, led a group of volunteers in setting up planters in the space as part of a summer-long naturalization plan.
“It was inspired by the idea for transplanting the ideas found in national parks into our neighbourhoods,” Chagpar said.
“How do you make it feel like you’re not in the city? How do you create the unexpected?”
The Palmerston Square program has been dubbed ‘PS’ for short, with Chagpar noting that could stand not for the square’s name, but also for such concepts as Public Space, Park in the Square or Please Sit.
“We’re looking at building communal tree houses, communal swings, front yard gardens – all kinds of things,” she said.
“We’re looking at what parts of the square we can convert to community gardens and we think there’s great space on the east side of the square.”
Some of the houses in the area already have front garden spaces helping to beautify the area.
Other ideas put forth for Palmerston Square include the installation of benches and other seating and a free library where people can take and leave books for reading while in the park.
The PS project is being run on a grassroots level, with volunteers donating their time and supplies.
“We obviously don’t have a ton of money to put into the project so we’re looking to home grow this,” Chagpar said.
The Homegrown National Park plan calls for an overall greening of the area, with community-led projects designed to turn the downtown ward in which nature complements the urban streetscape.
“Our project’s trying to create a sense of whimsy in a downtown residential area,” Chagpar said.
For more information on the project or to get involved, visit the group’s facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/592398557445112. For more information on the Homegrown National Park project as a whole, visit www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/wildlife-habitat/projects/the-homegrown-national-park