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Oakcrest Park(ette)

Updated: Jul 12, 2019

Surfaces: wood chips, sand, concrete.

As well as having a number of parks, Toronto has a wealth of “parkettes.” They are scattered all over the city, generally on small, odd-shaped pieces of land that can’t really be used for anything else.

They often crop up in places where Toronto’s grid is compromised by an unexpected diagonal; for example, the spot in the east end where Pape and Donlands collide, before crossing the Don Valley as Millwood Road. This glitch in the Toronto grid matrix spawns two plots of land that are two small for houses but too big for the city to ignore – hence, the Arthur Dyson and Kiwanis Parkettes.

Or they appear in spots where small plots of land have been re-purposed, as in the case of the Loring-Wyle Parkette in the Moore Park neighbourhood, which was the turnaround point for the Mount Pleasant streetcar until that line was replaced by a bus in 1976.

Some parkettes are quiet spots for tranquil meditation, like Rosedale’s Alex Murray Parkette. Others are focal points for community activity, like the Danforth’s Alexander the Great Parkette.

The only thing they share is that they tend to be small-ish. But exactly how small remains unclear.

I read on BlogTO that any park smaller than 0.5 hectares qualifies as a parkette. Which sounds believable, but if it’s true, the City isn’t reflecting the distinction with its signage very well. Several tiny parks reviewed on this site are much smaller than 0.5 hectares, but still have City-installed signs that proudly declare them as full-on Parks.

Meanwhile, Oakcrest’s sign calls it a “parkette,” despite being a bit larger than half a hectare, easily twice the size of Aldwych Park. So I’m going to call Oakcrest a park, not a parkette. As far as I’m concerned, if it looks like a park and feels like a park, it’s a park. Besides, Google Maps calls it a park, so I’m sold.

Let’s move on and talk about the playground, shall we?

Oakcrest has a lot going for it. Partially re-done in 2016 by Landscape Structures, the playground features a large climbing rock, a toddler mini-climber with a built-in toy car track (like the one at Langford) and one of just a handful of carousels to be found in city playgrounds.

The larger climber is older, but still good. It’s got one of those three-in-one molded plastic slides, with sharp sideways jogs that have a tendency to knock small kids’ heads back and forth on the way down. There’s also a shaded sandbox and a couple of teeter-totters, and a nicely painted wading pool.

Like many east-end parks, it’s also close to the Via and Go Train tracks, which makes for good trainspotting if your kid is going through that phase.

With a wide variety of equipment, plus a healthy amount of green space left over, it’s hard to figure why the city has added the cutesy "–ette" suffix to this apparently full-sized place. But I’m too tired to contemplate this any further, so I’m going to go have a sleep now. Or, depending on how well my kids sleep, perhaps it will just be a sleepette.

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