this blog entry has been updated
I'm excited about the proposed preferred concept plan for the Gore Park renovation the city just announced, but I had some questions and concerns after reading the Spectator article in yesterday's paper.
So I contacted Le'Ann Whitehouse Seely, the project manager, and she helpfully responded to my questions.
I asked how many mature trees are being torn down, as the image in the Spectator seemed to indicate that all the large trees on the south side of the park would be removed and new trees would be planted there.
Le'Ann calmed my fears:
The image you refer to has some of the mature/existing trees shadowed-out in order to allow a view of the rest of the park. It may have been difficult to see that on the image in the news paper.
At this early stage of design, the number of effected trees in not finalized. From the Arborist's report we know that six trees are in poor/declining health and the Arborist has recommended their removal and replacement. Between Hughson and John there will be trees impacted due to maintenance work that is required at the former washroom building, which is below grade at that location.
That work is required regardless of any work we do as part of the Gore Master Plan. Between John and Catharine, the proposal is to remove some trees to allow the pedestrian promenade to continue straight through to Catharine. These will be replaced.
I'm happy to report that Le'Ann assured me there will be "ample space for patios" along the route. I realize there are only a few eateries there now, but one would hope that in the future we'll see many more restaurants/cafes open up.
Having a large zone set aside for patios would be the number one way to turn this into a great draw.
She also confirmed that a space for a temporary/occasional performance stage at Hughson St. remains in the plan. At one point, the planning had an option to remove the stage and put in a little round garden.
Update - Overall, I find the plan to be somewhat underwhelming. The 'fun' factor isn't there as it should be for a city looking to lure middle class families back downtown.
I hoped to see a children's carousel along with water jets that would be a great place to cool off in the summer.
A really dynamic piece or series of public art installations that light up at night would have been great, perhaps even an interactive public art display.
The most important aspect of this plan will probably be the space devoted to cafe/patios. Imagine new eateries opening up along this stretch and being able to have large patios along its entire length.
The city probably needs to actively court new restaurants and retail outlets to locate around the Gore. If they are successful at luring a few new companies into the area and the physical renovations are done well, this area could really come back to life.
Otherwise, it will just a be a quieter, spruced up version of the current park - which is nice, but not a big draw or destination for average Hamiltonians.