Wednesday, August 12, 2009

St Francis Park

new wall, 18" high

existing wall, 6-8' ft, depending on location and which side of the wall

wall removed, south side of park, along St Frances St.
St Francois school in back right

There is a large green park behind St Frances church, the Hintonburg community centre, and St Francois school. Formerly religious grounds, the property is enclosed on the east and south by stone walls. About 25 years ago, when the City acquired the lands, window slots were cut into the walls and a few sections lowered to permit oversight into the park from Fairmont and St Frances avenues.

A year or two ago, the wall on the south side was deemed unsafe, due to some bowing in the wall. It was taken down and rebuilt. Stonemasonry at this scale does not come cheap.

Now, the newly rebuilt wall has been torn down again, is being topped off at curb height, about 18" above the grass. I am told it is because some people thought the park unsafe.

I was surprised at this, my son went to St Francois for 9 years - daycare, pre-mat, mat, gr1-6. Only once did I see drug activity taking place in the park, right behind the Hintonburg centre. I suspect the park is safer today, as a group of stacked townhouses was just completed on the west side of the park, overlooking the grounds.

At a recent meeting on drug use in the neighborhood, Hintonburg reps were unable to identify any locations where hard drugs were openly/publically being taken, so I guess the park is not a notorious drug den of iniquity.

Note that as part of the park renovations, the existing play structure will be relocated/replaced about 30m south of its current site, for the benefit of the new townhouses.

This turn of events at St Frances park made me wonder about the proposed Dominican Gardens park off Empress. The Dalhousie Community Assoc and concerned neighbours are trying to get the City to aquire the stone walled treed garden on the south side of the Domican College and St Jean Baptiste church. A part of its charm is its seclusion, and the heavy stone walls, about 7' high, border both the east and west sides of the gardens. Will they come tumbling down if the City does acquire the land?

1 comment:

  1. I overlook this park from the townhouses you mention. I have never seen anything suspect going on aside from some drinking teenagers at night. I think this park is gorgeous. What I wonder constantly is, why are the students from St. Francois using it as a school playground? Why is a City park a school park? I have never seen this happen at any other schools (take Connought and Devonshire for example). The kids from the school literally dominate the park and no one from the community dare go near it from 10-3 except when the students are inside (rarely since they come out in shifts). The result is that the community park is wasted on the school and does not benefit the community. Moreover the sheer traffic of all the kids and the relentless stomping around destroys the grass. The park looked awful before due to the high traffic. No city park sees that intense use. Now, the renovation is gorgeous and I am sure, soon to be ruined. I would like to see an end to the use by the school kids aside from the odd time or special event. The school should raise funds and build a proper school playground like every other school in the city.