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A Letter to save the Simcoe Tot Lot - Home of the Sunset Cultural Garden

To the Planning Committee Of NENa: Sunset Cultural Garden is a park, parkland slotted for development since 2011. Originally Bay Street ran through the park and was “straightened”. Homes were expropriated to make room for the “Perimeter Road”. It became a P1 Park, Simcoe Tot Lot and was open space for many years for baseball, dog walking, and kids playing. In 2017 Jason Farr and city council passed a motion to sell the park for sidewalk improvements and move the garden across the street. Selling a park, a community park, selling a community neighbourhood park for development, is setting a dangerous precedent for city, regional and Ontario planning policies. Selling a park to pay for affordable housing at another location is also setting a dangerous precedent. Affordable housing receives funding from all three levels of government, not from selling a park. Would another councillor get community support to sell a park in their ward, for “affordable housing” or for anything? Voters value parks. We asked by email in 2017 the other councillors (and the mayor) whether they would agree to sell a community park to fund intensification in their ward. No answer. We’re willing to bet there would be no answer or the answer “no” now if asked again. We are not ‘against’ intensification and the development of affordable housing, as we have been described. We are for it. We understand that NENa supports “no increase to the urban boundary”. But small urban green spaces (small parks) ADD to neighbourhoods. It is walkable, accessible, and offers alternatives. It is being used by the new residents at Picton and James and will be used by the new residents of Reimagine Jamesville. The Park and garden provide a neighbourhood alternative to the busy Bayfront Park and the Piers for new residents moving into the north end, and will ensure less traffic. It is peaceful and calming rather than hectic. It is close and accessible. The Park and Sunset Cultural Garden provide a quiet parkland space for commuters, visitors, individuals and families, that is unique and multicultural, with poems set in the ground in different languages about the sunset, and a stone donor walk of 35 donors, NENa included. Its design is world class. The corner, known as Simcoe Tot Lot, identified as a P1 Park, has been adopted by many volunteers over the years to beautify it as opposed to developing it. It is accessible and welcoming to those living with disabilities. Our vision for the future includes a park and gardens with amenities like water and water features, shade structures, picnic tables, more multi language poems, a children’s garden, and other design features and signage. Signs would include the translation of the poems into English and a list of indigenous and pollinator and drought resistant plants in the garden. Signs would acknowledge our twin city Nanning, China, and trees and planters donated by Kromet International and Alnan Aluminum, and eight benches donated by LIUNA Local 837 and built by Mohawk College students. We plan to continue working on garden maintenance, media campaigns, signage and funding. We continue to gain community support and neighbourhood participation and invite more volunteers. We now need to concentrate solely on the above objectives and goals. We are committed to these as we have been since 2012. We are not "tired" faces. We and our many supporters and volunteers are the face of Sunset Cultural Garden. We can speak to the park and its history. What we need is help with the legal procedures ahead. We would like to handover legal applications and appeals, concurrent and commensurate with our ongoing work. We are thankful for NENa’s and the committee’s consideration in this extremely important matter. Saving the park and Sunset Cultural Garden makes a small example with big far reaching results in intensification planning policies. Sincerly,

Nancy Hindmarsh

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