While any urban centres are always challenged by nature in having ample green space, Toronto does well by its increasing commitment to bring nature to the City. We currently have 1,600 existing parks and 600 kilometres of trails, which translates to about 8,000 hectares — about 13 percent of Toronto’s overall land area.
Toronto – located on an escarpment to Lake Ontario – has an abundance of ravines and trails (although many were destroyed as the city developed) located in the heart of the original City. In fact, many people are surprised at how extensive our green space is, as it’s not easily apparent in our automobile-centric lives. Toronto is not only committed to preserving the green space we already have but also to creating more leisure space for residents. For example, for each development project downtown a developer must either donate parkland — if the site is large enough — or pay into the Parkland Dedication Fund, which uses the money to create new parks and refurbish existing ones. Pretty spectacular, eh?
As we learned during the pandemic, access to green space is an absolute must for urbanites. It’s perfect if you have a lovely terrace or green space right in your own backyard. However, having wide open space nearby is important too- especially if you are a walker, runner, parent of children needing to burn off energy or dog owner eager to let Fido stretch his legs.
We are blessed in Toronto with so many parks to choose from.
While Toronto’s parks range in size from half a city block to the sprawling 161 hectares of High Park, one of our favourites is mid-sized Sorauren Park, which is nestled in Parkdale, on the edge of Roncesvalles Village. A reclaimed brownfield site, it was created after the local community objected to City of Toronto plans to convert a former bus garage into a facility for storing City vehicles. The park opened in 1995 and now hosts several sporting fields, a farmer’s market and a fieldhouse for community gatherings. In fact, this park is so well-regarded, people travel from across the city to spend time here with their kids.
Sorauren Park offers the best of green space to nearby residents, including a large off-leash dog area (check out other great off-leash parks here), a field house, an ice rink in the winter, a farmer’s market, a baseball diamond, a ‘town square’, and various kids programs and sports opportunities. And don’t miss the Pumpkin Parade the day after Halloween, where residents line the park paths with their Jack-O-Lanterns (around 2000!) to create a magical evening setting.
Sorauren Park has a weekly Farmers’ Market, which runs every Monday from 3-7 pm, including most holiday Mondays. They are revving up for a stellar 2023 summer season as the warmer weather settles in. The market is owned and operated by the WestEnd Food Co-op. Visit the Co-op’s web site for the latest schedules, list of vendors and market news including entertainment. You can also support the Market by buying memberships and bonds. Come to the Market for fresh local produce, meat, baked goods and foodstuffs of all kinds, plus entertainment and kids’ activities.
The 2000 square-foot Sorauren Park Fieldhouse – opened in 2008 – provides washrooms, meeting space, storage space and a small kitchen for park users and the community. It also provides storage and a winter home for the Farmers’ Market, and hose storage for the ice rink. The Fieldhouse occupies the old building at 50 Wabash Avenue, the former offices of the Canada Linseed Oil Company. It was renovated thanks to the efforts of community groups and the City, with funding from cash and in-kind donations, grants, some City funds, and “section 37” development fees from local condo and loft developments (like we mentioned above!)
Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation, in partnership with the all-volunteer Sorauren Park Sports Association, runs the soccer and baseball (t-ball) leagues at the park starting every May. Programs range from age 4 to 13. The tone is fun and friendly, with an emphasis on building sportsmanship, skills, team play and exercise. Volunteer parents serve as coaches and fundraisers (for the t-shirt uniforms and trophies), while the City provides the equipment, referees, and registration system. Sorauren Park Sports Association.
In these classes, yoga is approached therapeutically, with the objective being to restore balance; flexibility, agility and strength to the physical body, fullness and fluidity to the breath, quiet to the mind. Lila Yoga Studio, offer classes, but you are welcome to lay out your own mat underneath a tree and practice on your own. How peaceful!
P.I.N.E. PROJECT & NATURE CLASSES
The P.I.N.E. Project was created to bring the wonders of the natural world back to the urban jungle. P.I.N.E. programs encourage fun, nature-based learning using games, survival skills, and indigenous knowledge. No gadgets and no modern technology. P.I.N.E. Project. They are adapting to COVID-19 restrictions, but are hopeful that they can run their roster of summer camps and other programming in 2021.
Wholeplay offers early childhood development and parenting classes and service at the Sorauren Fieldhouse on Mondays and Tuesdays. Wholeplay is dedicated to providing a quality learning experience for both parents and young children through play, education and support. Classes run from September – May. Wholeplay Website.
Music Together® is an internationally recognized early childhood music program for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners, and the adults who love them. For further information, check out. FunWithMusicTogether
Want to learn more? Visit Sorauren Park online.
@SoraurenPark is a Twitter account maintained by the non-profit Wabash Building Society, which advocates for the completion and specialness of little Sorauren Park.
@WestendFoodCoop is a Twitter account maintained by The West End Food Co-op, an incorporated multi-stakeholder co-operative committed to the development of community food culture in Toronto’s West End.
Outdoor time = stress relief! It’s as simple as that. Having convenient access to great green space is also supportive of your mental health.
How wonderful to be just a 17-minute stroll from one of the best parks in the city whenever the whimsy hits? These sweet suites in Toronto’s historic Parkdale neighbourhood are ready for immediate occupancy.
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Since 1991, I’ve steered my career through a real estate market crash and burn; survived a slow painful cross-country recession; completed an M.E.S. graduate degree from York University called ‘Planning Housing Environments’; executed the concept, sales & marketing of multiple new condo and vintage loft conversions; and guided hundreds of clients through the purchase and sale of hundreds of freehold and condominium dwellings across the original City of Toronto. From a gritty port industrial city into a glittering post-industrial global centre, I’ve navigated the ebbs and flows of a property market as a consistent Top Producer. And I remain as passionate about it today as when I started.
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