Barbara Hall Park will be undergoing improvements in the near future. The City is collaborating with the Church Wellesley community to develop a new vision and Master Plan. The objectives of the park vision and Master Plan are to enhance the park’s function for everyday use and, as a central gathering space for the City’s LGBTQ2S+ community, a space capable of accommodating passive and active uses, special events, moments of reflection, and to improve park maintenance and safety.
In spring 2023, Phase 1 of Community Engagement took place, with an online survey and an in-person workshop. The results were collated and the following "Drivers of Change" were published on the City of Toronto website:
A place with diverse users and needs
Barbara Hall Park has diverse users with varied needs. In many ways, the space is expected to be “everything to everyone”: a space for the everyday, while also being a place for reflection, mourning, celebration, and where people come to access the services of the 519 Community Centre. In the past, the park accommodated all of these uses quite well, but this has not been the case more recently. There is a lack of cohesion between the different park elements, and the park struggles to accommodate the huge number of users who visit during the annual Green Space Festival.
A green heart in need of improvement
The park is the green heart of the Church-Wellesley Village – a highly prized oasis of green within the community that is also its central gathering place. The raised lawn, garden beds, and canopy trees are all highly valued by nearby residents. However, the park lacks an appropriate range of seating, is not properly lit, and the pathways are not wide enough to accommodate heavy use. The programmed spaces present maintenance challenges that the community would like improved. The park has a lack of flat surfaces which make it difficult to program.
A place for reflection and grief
As the home of two significant LGBTQ2S+ memorials, the Toronto AIDS Memorial and the Trans Memorial, Barbara Hall Park is an important community space for grief, reflection, and activism. There is a strong desire to maintain these memorials as places where people can grieve or reflect quietly. However, there is a feeling that these memorials are not properly or clearly identified or maintained and they are sometimes vandalized. In addition, the AIDS Memorial does not resonate strongly with HIV-positive youth, who feel it should also inspire hope and celebrate the lives of those people who are currently living with HIV.
A place where people sometimes feel unsafe
The lack of clear sightlines throughout the park and the presence of dark corners present safety challenges and often attract undesirable activities, like drug use and drug dealing. Particular areas of the park, including the area to the south of the 519 and the northeast corner of the park, lack good lighting and/or programming and can feel particularly unsafe.
Future phase timeline:
In August 2022, Originate Developments submitted a proposal for a 58-storey, 690 unit condo tower at 102-120 Earl Place and 561 Jarvis Street. The new building would replace a block of ten three-storey condominium townhomes on Earl Street as well as the three-storey rental apartment block at 561 Jarvis Street.
In February, 2023 a Community Consultation Meeting was hosted by City staff.
In March 2023, the developer appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal, having resubmitted the application. The resubmission added a parkland dedication at 6-8 Huntley Street.
City Staff released an Appeal Report in August 2023, recommending that the City oppose the application at the Ontario Land Tribunal and continue discussions with the developer to resolve outstanding issues:
For more information:
Development Application Information Centre:
Urban Toronto: https://tinyurl.com/yncmrjhj