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Cabbagetown turned a parking space into parkette to support local business | CBC News

It’s not a film set, it’s the new Cabbagetown Parkscape.

For 10 weeks, from July 4 to Sept. 11, Parliament Street in Cabbagetown is going to look a little more green as a new parkscape installation was erected to the delight of merchants, businesses, and the local community.

The parkscape, featuring trees, green space, naturalized seating on logs, and other elements of nature, was erected in just 72 hours with repurposed municipal wood. It was made by Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds in a collaborative effort between the Cabbagetown BIA and other partners including Bienstock and Toronto Centre MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam.

“This is a placemaking initiative designed to support local merchants and businesses who have been impacted by the last two and a half years,” Wong-Tam said.

The $100,000 cost is funded by major partners, she added, with no money from taxpayers or the BIA. The installation elevates the experience on the streetside, and the feedback has been positive, Wong-Tam said.

“We’ve heard from merchants they’re seeing new people coming in, staying longer, choosing to dine-in or take away and plop themselves on this naturalized seating,” she said.

Toronto Centre MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam worked with the Cabbagetown BIA and other partners to install the parkscape. She hopes the idea will spread across Toronto. (Turgut Yeter/CBC)

What was once a parking space and patio space has been recreated into a natural green space with shade. An official opening of the installation takes place Monday.

Parliament Street near the installation had its speed reduced from 50 km/h to 30 km/h. It creates a natural traffic calming effect, Wong-Tam said. The parkscape takes up two blocks.

“People want to keep it,” she said. “We want this to be an infectious idea, exported outside of Toronto centre.”

“This is what the streets can look like when you design spaces for people,” Wong-Tam added.

The parkscape also offers patio seating for adjacent restaurants in a natural setting. (Turgut Yeter/CBC)

Lucas Schaffer-Wood, owner of Salt & Tobacco Pizzeria, says the parkscape has brought more customers to the restaurant.

“Having the patio space, naturescape present, it made more seating available,” he said. “It’s good to bring people to the neighbourhood.”

Schaffer-Wood was involved in the planning with the Cabbagetown BIA, and while he was hesitant to potentially lose his patio seating, it’s actually gotten better.

“It turns out we’re able to have seating, and now it’s much nicer than our original patio,” he said.

The parkscape repurposes municipal wood and offers shade for pedestrians. (Turgut Yeter/CBC)

Visitors to the parkscape have fallen in love.

“Every street in Toronto should have something like this,” Chenny Xia said. “It brings a sense of community.”

“It’d be so nice to have a park like this on every corner. It feels so calm, and a lot cooler,” Meghan Hellstern said.

A local resident, Leo Lapiano, took advantage of the new green space by sitting on a log and playing guitar.

“I thought it was a movie set at first, because usually things don’t happen in Toronto that quickly,” he said. “This space has opened up a whole bunch of conversations.”

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