The story of Berczy Park is the story of Toronto. It starts with a small downtown space carved out of a neglected site left over from the 1800s and ends with a 21st-century facility that forms the centre of a diverse high-rise community.
No one could have imagined how things would turn out on Front St. east of Yonge; the market, theatres, shops and office buildings are still here, but now they have been joined by condo towers and the thousands of people who inhabit them. Historic façades now sit beside structures so new the paint is barely dry.
Sharing the neighbourhood are families with kids, singles, seniors, workers, visitors and tourists. Some use the park to eat lunch; others want a playground or a place to walk their dog.
Reconciling these various claims is tough, but eminently do-able. At the same time, Berczy has grown tired and rough around the edges. Derek Michael Besant’s mural on the back of the Gooderham (Flat Iron) Building remains one of the best public-art pieces in Toronto, but the park itself had not kept up with the times.
Starting this week, construction on the new Berczy will change all that. When it reopens in the summer of 2016, the new Berczy will have a something for everyone — well, almost. In addition to a children’s play area in the northwest corner of the park, there will be a small section for dogs, benches and, most spectacularly, a huge two-tiered fountain awash with 27 cast-iron dogs, one cat and topping it off, the object of their collective desire, a bone. […]