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Wallace Emerson Park

Equipment by Henderson.

Surface: sand.

Wallace Emerson is a good (if slightly run-down) neighbourhood park that is on the brink of becoming an excellent park.

The whole area has changed a lot since I was a kid. In the 90s our minivan was stolen right out of the driveway of our house at Pape and Danforth, and it showed up in the parking lot of the Galleria Mall; perhaps the sketchiest malls in the city, a place so legendarily run-down that it once inspired a book called “The Mall that Time Forgot.”

The Wallace-Emerson neighbourhood hasn’t yet evolved into a Leslieville or Queen West quite yet, but a visit to the park suggests that such a transformation might be on the way.

Signs are up everywhere announcing the upcoming rejuvenation to the park and community centre, a project that includes upgrades to the bike park, skate park, and the addition of a splash pad. Look to the horizon and you’ll see cranes and condo construction; visit the website of the “Galleria on the Park” development and it looks like the whole area is being re-built in the image of Corktown Common.

Whether all this change is ultimately for the good remains to be seen, but from the perspective of a playground enthusiast, things look promising.

As it stands now, Wallace Emerson Park includes a variety of play options in its long, narrow footprint: a bike park that’s a bit like a smaller version of the excellent one down at Sunnyside, a skate park that’s not in great shape but which attracts plenty of users from the neighbourhood, and a playground in the shadow of the community centre.

The playground is very old but still usable, although certain aspects of its age - like the seams on the slide that aren't overly comfortable - did turn our kids off a bit. They had a good enough time though, and enjoyed watching the skaters on the nearby half-pipe. (A temporary structure, rather than permanent concrete construction. Hopefully this will change.)

So for the moment, this is a park with tons of potential but no top-tier amenities. But if the city’s rejuvenation plan is seen through, you can bet we’ll be back.

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