Equipment by Kompan.
On one hand, it’s great that the Annex has a new playground to go add to its already impressive neighbourhood tally. On the other hand, the new Robert Street Park – apparently partially funded by a recent U of T sports field project – is a bit too undercooked for me to get overly excited about it.
The playground has decent curb appeal. The large rope pyramid and extensive use of wood makes it look like an Earthscape playground, but it’s really just Kompan’s imitation version of Earthscape. Climb up to the top of that rope pyramid and you’ll find it’s surprisingly wobbly. Take a close look at some of the other wood-and-rope climbing elements and you’ll see rope that looks slacker than it should. No swings. No slides. No sand.
However, if you’re looking for somewhere to sit, Robert Park is your new favourite place. There are some bolted-down Muskoka chairs with low tables (nice touch) that are shaded (very nice touch) and make for a good snack area. And then…there are the benches.
So, so many benches. A large portion of the park is a kidney-shaped green space, and this is surrounded – and I mean surrounded – by benches. I don’t know if they plan to hold events in the kidney-shaped green space or something, and frankly it seems a bit small to do very much with, but they sure expect lots of people to be sitting in this park. I counted enough spots for more than 50 people. When we visited on a sunny afternoon the total number of people using the benches was exactly three.
But hey! I really can’t complain too much. Roll back the years on Google Street View and you’ll see that this park is an improvement over what was on this corner previously: disused tennis courts and some kind of abandoned clubhouse. What’s there now is, at the very least, pretty as a public space and passable as a playground.