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Leonard Linton Park

Surface: rubber.

The area around Leonard Linton Park (east of Laird, south of Eglinton) is an odd, transitioning neighbourhood that still feels like it hasn’t settled on an identity yet.

A century ago, it was home to an airfield, and a plane factory which manufactured airplanes for use in the First World War.

Fifty years ago, it was a thriving industrial area, criss-crossed by both freight and passenger rail lines.

Today, some industry remains, but condos and big-box retail have moved in. Vestigial train tracks are still visible, cutting across streets before ending abruptly where, one presumes, a factory once was. It’s officially known as the “Leaside Business Park,” but it doesn’t feel like Leaside. It’s just as close to Thorncliffe Park, but it doesn’t feel like it belongs to that neighbourhood either.

In all, it still feels too industrial to be a nice place to live, but too decayed to be a nice place to do business. Its primary function seems to be to give wealthy Leasiders a place to park their Porsche Cayennes while the kids bounce around at SkyZone.

But if this neighbourhood is going to tip towards residential, the recent rejuvenation of Leonard Linton Park was a good way to start.

The equipment is solid – with one of those shockingly steep slides that Landscape Structures seems to like – and a decent variety of climbing, spinning, and swinging to be done. It's unfortunate that there's no sandbox, and a splash pad felt sorely needed on the day we went.

Speaking of heat, many of the trees are still a generation away from providing good shade, but during our visit, a few local moms were sitting beneath tiny trees with their tiny babies…another good sign for the future of this park.

The basketball courts (complete with chain nets) were also in use, by a group of late-teens or twentysomethings. It was nice to see such a wide age range co-recreating together.

A big part of the reason we went was that my son (and therefore, by default, his younger sister) has been very much into skate parks recently, and the Vanderhoof Skate Park right near the playground is a pretty good one. I watched my son zip around on his scooter for a while, imitating the older kids while his younger sister, in turn, imitated him.

A friendly older skater (like, as old as me!) took a bit of a shine to my kids, and they watched in awe as he pulled off some spectacular moves. He seemed to like having an audience too, and gave a little inspirational speech after his routine, in which he said something about following your dreams and believing in yourself. It was weird and sweet at the same time.

It’s hard to tell what this area will be like in a couple decades’ time, but with more affordable housing options than Leaside, and the Eglinton Crosstown opening soon (geologically speaking) there are signs that it could end up being a good place to live. Perhaps the playground at Leonard Linton Park will be at the heart of it.

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