Updated: Apr 20, 2021
Equipment by Landscape Structures
This is a great playground in a weird neighbourhood.
Well, maybe “weird” isn’t exactly right. It’s just so new that it doesn’t seem real. After spending a morning there I felt like I’d been hanging out in a life-sized Mattamy Homes presentation centre or something.
But the strange part is that it’s not brand new; it’s been stuck in partially-completed purgatory for at least four years, when the Toronto Star reported that the Stanley Greene Neighbourhood, a subdivision adjacent to Downsview Park, was plagued by construction problems: mold, leaks, and garages that weren’t big enough to fit cars. When the article was written in 2017, the local Councillor had received 500 complaints from residents.
Since then, it seems that every time a Toronto news outlet posts a story about Downsview, it reads like one of my middle-school report cards: lots of potential, but inconsistent effort. Lack of organization has led to disappointing results.
Downsview Park was supposed to be a clean slate, a chance for us to use everything we’d learned about city planning over the past two centuries and show the world what we’ve got. There’s still a chance, apparently, but it as of right now it’s hard to stand in Stanley Greene Park, surrounded by identical townhomes, some still unfinished with their Tyvex wrap flapping in the wind, and imagine that this could be a destination neighbourhood. We certainly wouldn’t have been able to go if we didn’t have a car; it’s a 35-minute walk to Downsview Park subway station.
But neighbourhood weirdness aside: this is a great playground. If it was close to our house we’d be there every day.
The centrepiece is a four-level enclosed climber with a double straight slide and a twisting tunnel slide, inside which my children’s giggles echoed for much of the morning of our visit. There’s also a spherical spinning climber that brought to mind the Death Star, and which I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere else in Toronto.
Another huge highlight is the skatepark, a modest but nicely laid out area with very mild slopes, perfect for beginners but with enough elements to attract the kind of grown-up skaters who make me feel very old, but somehow hopeful that I might still have time to master something very difficult.
In winter, there’s a natural skating rink, and in summer, the basketball courts, shaded picnic benches, splash pad, and tennis courts should keep just about everyone busy. Oh, and bathrooms.
While this one is pretty far from our Danforth comfort zone, I hope to make this a regular spot whenever we’re able to make it out that way. But more than that, I hope that every time I visit, the surrounding neighbourhood starts living up to the potential its teachers insist it has.