Permitting a great neighbourhood park

Many years ago Rowntree Mills Park was notorious as a location where illegal activities such as public drinking, prostitution and the sale/use of illicit drugs happened regularly.

The attempts by Parks staff and bylaw officers did little to curb the behaviors due to the scope of the activities and because the staff feared for their safety approaching the people participating in them. Police were involved but they simply didn’t have the manpower to constantly patrol the park.

Residents eventually got fed up; they came together and approached me with a petition asking that vehicular access to the park be limited. I was able to grant that request and for the past four years a permit has been required for vehicle admittance.

The criminal activities taking place in the park ceased and those closest to the park were satisfied. The permitting process was always meant as a temporary measure until we could find a different solution and recently I have been receiving requests that the park be accessible by car again.

On October 28th I held a closed residential meeting with residents directly adjacent to Rowntree Mills Park and City Staff. With their support it was decided that vehicle traffic in the park will remain limited, however it was requested that the permit process be simplified.

We will work with City Staff over the next while to decide the best way to manage the permit process and allow for easier vehicle access, especially for those who require wheelchair accessibility. This is a solution that should satisfy those who have concerns about illegal activities taking place in the park as well as those who wish to have increased vehicular access.

At some point I will hold a larger open meeting to discuss the previous meeting and to discuss the next steps for making the park accessible to everyone who wants to enjoy it.

On a festive note; with the holiday season fast approaching you will soon light up your homes and yards with bright displays of cheer.

One tradition in Emery Village is the lighting of the tree at Weston and Sheppard. Since 2007 the Emery Village BIA has participated in the City of Toronto’s Cavalcade of Lights with their tree and this year it will be lit on Friday, November 29th, bringing light and joy to our community. I hope you and your families will have a chance to enjoy it and the decorations throughout the community in the coming weeks.

I wish you and your family the very best for this approaching holiday season.

Giorgio Mammoliti