Starting this weekend, the downtown community of Regent Park will finally live up to its name.
The neighbourhood will see a new, sizable green space officially opened on Saturday, June 21, adding much-needed recreational opportunities to the area.
Simply dubbed Regent Park, the new space will feature picnic areas, a splash pad, playgrounds and a large open space for sports and other activities.
It will also include a greenhouse, community garden and bake oven to add to the programming available.
Covering an area bounded by Dundas, Sackville, Oak and Sumach streets, the park will be a welcome oasis in a community with a growing number of highrise buildings.
Local councillor Pam McConnell, who will return from a conference out of town for the landmark opening, has long been looking forward to the opening of the park.
“The opening of Regent Park marks yet another significant milestone in the revitalization of this magnificent neighbourhood,” she said via email. “The community was at the table from the beginning of this project, and the final design fully reflects their vision.”
Local not-for-profit organizations will run programs related to the garden, greenhouse and bake oven. The CRC, Dixon Hall and Green Thumbs Growing Kids will be leaders in that area.
Liz Curran of the CRC said the green space – and the gardening areas in particular – will bring community members together.
“We’ll have different groups working together in the community garden,” she said. “The vision is to bring together seniors, youth, people with diverse cultural backgrounds and skills so they can all determine what they want to see in the space and work together to get that.”
A special Friends of Regent Park group will be set up to bring people together to work on issues related to the park. Those interested in joining can do so by emailing FriendsofRegentPark@tcrc.ca
“The city’s empowering us to take care of the various elements of the park, so that group will look after the basic planting and care of the plants and making sure everything’s well-watered and taken care of,” Curran said.
While the garden will bring people together, the bake oven will provide a place where local groups can get together, share recipes, stories and company.
“There are a lot of new people coming into the neighbourhood, so this will be a great way for people to get to know each other over a slice of fresh pizza, fresh bread or other food,” Curran said.
The park abuts the Regent Park Aquatic Centre, making that entire block an important social and recreational outlet for local residents. Most importantly, its many features ensure it will provide an open green space for residents, but that it will also be much more than that.
“Regent Park will be a place for everyone to come together to enjoy art, music, food, recreation and play,” McConnell said.
A special celebration featuring live music, dance, First Nations performances and more will take place from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 21.