The long wait for the opening of Willowdale’s latest green space is finally over. Maplehurst Park officially opened at the corners of Maplehurst & Longmore on Saturday, July 20.
The first person who came up to me at the opening was a grandfather. “Now, when my grandchildren come to visit,” he said, “I’ll have a park to bring them to.” The second comment came from a mother: “When we got back from a holiday, the first thing my children wanted to do was play in the new park.”
Family. The unadulterated joy of being a kid. Healthy neighbourhoods. Parks. They all fit together. Which is why the opening of Maplehurst Park was worth the wait.
The park was conceived of some 15 years ago, when a group of Parks staff sat with me and a big ward map. With all the increased population in the area, we needed more greenspace.
First we circled the areas that had no park. Then we looked for blocks that had no large new homes that would be too expensive to purchase. Lastly, we developed a strategy to have developers pay for the properties, one at a time. That took more than 10 years.
Then we involved the community in the design and, finally, opened it in time for neighbourhood children to remember 2013 as the summer they got a new park.
This new green space was designed to offer local residents place to enjoy walks, relaxation in a shady area or play in the new playscape area.
Many City staff, friends and neighbours joined us for the official ribbon cutting at this new community space enjoying a cake cutting and hot dogs and hamburgers from our neighbourhood Jetsun’s Juicyburger.
In the past four years, we’ve officially opened five new parks. Others are coming in 2014 and 2015. And the map is still out on the table.