Percy Street Park Gets a Makeover

Percy Street Park Gets a Makeover

By Ingrid Gadsden
September 22, 2006
The Bulletin, Toronto

For residents of Percy Street, a 14-foot wide laneway in Corktown containing 11 narrow townhouses dating to Victorian times, Christmas came early this year. It came the day Tricon Films, producers of Green Force, an upcoming HGTV reno show, began searching for an inner city space to transform, for one episode in their series.


Al Rezoski of Toronto’s Clean & Beautiful City program showed them Percy St. Park, a dreary half-acre plot of dirt and weeds wedged at the end of Percy, abutting the Richmond St. overpass. Enclosed by graffiti marked walls, the park held nothing but an ancient set of swings, some scruffy trees and a perpetual supply of litter. Residents avoided the place but the Green Force team fell in love with its potential. With city approval, Tricon/Green Force offered to remodel the park free of charge and film the process. Percy St. residents were overjoyed and pitched in. Designs were drawn up and in mid-August, construction started. Out went the swings, in came backhoes, tons of topsoil, aggregates, stone, cement, cedar lumber, mulch, trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials, plus an in-ground irrigation system. The finishing touch was an original sculpture, appropriately named “Rebirth”. The transformation took two weeks.


Now a tranquil botanical sanctuary in the heart of Corktown, the new park incorporates three outdoor “rooms” linking raised flower beds, cedar arbours and mature trees with a gathering area for neighbourhood barbeques. At the western end, an interlocking brick path leads through another sculpted garden of seagrass and seating rocks to Sumach St. Donations from Tricon and Green Force sponsors included landscaping materials and labour totalling $300,000.


Percy St. residents send thanks to Tricon/Green Force, Streetcar Developments, Al Rezoski, Seferian Design Group, Let’s Landscape, Putzer Hornby Nursery, PAO Horticultural, Permacon, Borrowed Spaces, Vanden Bussche Irrigation, Wetlands Irrigation, Earthco Soil Mixtures, Greenhorizons Hamilton Sod, Dufferin Aggregates, St. Lawrence Cement, Herman’s Contracting, Brian Green and Rusty Warkman from Toronto Parks, James MacDonald, Sharon Grimes, Price Chopper, Gourmet Bun and scores of Corktown volunteers. Green Force’s “Percy St. Park” makeover episode will be aired nationally on HGTV in spring 2007.