June 11, 2012 3:00 pm
Updated: March 23, 2013 5:11 pm

Celebrating open space in a city of high-rise construction

An artist's rendition of Olive Square Park at 5575 Yonge Street in Toronto.

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TORONTO – A Toronto neighbourhood experiencing a boom in building development is celebrating a little open space.

On Sunday, local residents feted the opening of Olive Square Park, an urban space featuring natural stone, trees, gardens and seating areas, amid bustling condo development.

Councillor John Filion and city staff attended the event, as did local residents who had a hand in designing the space itself.

Olive Square Park, located at 5575 Yonge St., is sandwiched between commercial space, a gas station, and four Pemberton Group condo towers completed in 2003.

A Google Maps image shows 5575 Yonge Street in May 2009.

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Previously a parking lot, the park is a now space where residents can sit and take a break, says David Nosella, Supervisor Capital Projects with the city of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation department.

The Olive Ave. neighbourhood, near the intersection of Yonge and Finch, has seen significant growth in the past few years. The area has witnessed a 22 per cent increase in population between 2006 and 2011.

Construction began on Olive Square Park in 2011, following numerous planning meetings and design reviews held between Ward 23 Coun. John Filion and local residents.

Creating open space in a city growing as quickly as Toronto can be difficult, says Robert Freedman, the Director of Urban Design with the city of Toronto.

Any city undergoing huge growth is going to face conflict in balancing building with providing open spaces for city residents, says Freedman. “All big cities struggle with this. It’s tough to grow up.”

Olive Square Park itself isn’t massive, taking up only 0.5 hectares. But it provides a valuable space to city residents.

As urban spaces get even more urban, parks and green space become even more cherished, says Freedman.

With 325 condo projects on the market and another 173 towers currently underway, Toronto has more condos under construction than any other city in North America.

“Pocket parks” like Olive Square Park or New York’s famed Paley Park are small, but can be a wonderful oasis in the city. “As cities get denser, [pocket parks] will become more popular,” says Freedman.

© 2012 Shaw Media

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