*This post is sponsored by TD and the TD Common Ground Project. All opinions are my own, or that of my family.
Growing up in a rural farming community, a visit to a park was a special treat. My sisters and I would squeal with glee and swing on the swings, slide down the slides and climb all over the climbers. There were parks with see-saws, parks with roundabouts, parks next to the beach. We made so many new friends there, and so did my parents. As I grew older and moved into town, the park was still the place to be – for young families during the day, and us teenagers in the evenings.
Even as a university student I’d often stop in a park on my way home from class, for a relaxing swing or a quiet study break. Parks tend to attract people of all walks, whether for a picnic, a game of Frisbee, time with family or friends, to blow off some steam, or otherwise. They can tend to be the heart of a community or a neighbourhood, a meeting place, a common ground. Now that Huckleberry is walking and interacting so much more with the world around him, our family’s need for all that a park can offer has been awakened. And so our search for the perfect park in Kingston has begun!
When we moved to this city four years ago, we had little need nor time for parks and didn’t notice more than the one right out our front steps. Lately, though, we’ve been noticing parks all over the city that we didn’t know existed before. One park in particular, that we drive by almost daily, is Victoria Park. I can’t think of a single time that we’ve driven by that this park was empty. There are always children playing on the play structure. There are always young adults making use of the basketball courts or large grassy field. There are always families and friends spending time together in the beautifully treed green space. And in the winter, the rink is packed! We’ve grown so curious about Victoria Park, so when I was approached to write a post about it, I happily agreed. But what’s the occasion for this post? Why am I writing about Victoria Park? Well, let me tell you…
In recognition of Canada’s 150th birthday, TD has put together the TD Common Ground Project, which is creating a legacy supporting the revitalization of green spaces across the country, green spaces where people gather on common ground to celebrate, to play and to be. Through the TD Common Ground Project, the City of Kingston has received a $500,000 donation to put towards the revitalization of Victoria Park. This 125-year old park is located in the heart of downtown Kingston and is well used by people of all ages. The park currently functions as a neighbourhood park for the families and students in the immediate area, as well as a meeting place for some community services in the area.
However, with this space not having had any major upgrades since the 1970’s, it isn’t attracting many new users nor meeting all of the needs of the current ones. The redevelopment of Victoria Park will “create a vibrant, natural, multi‑functional green space for a growing and diverse community” (TD Common Ground Project). In simple terms, Victoria Park is getting a serious face lift!
Welcome to the 21st century and the eco-friendly park! The revitalization of Victoria Park will see some typical improvements like pathways, accessibility of building, facility upgrades, etc., but also some very important and very cool greening initiatives. There is going to be an educational water play feature (a.k.a. the coolest splash pad in town!), a water conservation garden (with a little bridge!), LED lighting along the pedestrian pathways (which are used by many as part of their commute), the diversification of the already gorgeous mature tree canopy (hammock session, anyone?) and the expansion of the community meeting spaces (picnic tables galore!). Some other recent changes also include the relocation and replacement of the existing basketball and tennis courts, and the large grassy field and baseball diamond, along with the current play structure, will be left happily untouched.
With all of these incredible improvements, Victoria Park will be more inviting, more engaging and more loved. Beautiful spaces attract more people, and the more we get together the happier we’ll be. The urban and the outdoorsy parents can come together in one place and both be oh-so-satisfied. Our children can engage in nature play and learning. We can engage in community building and citizen science. We can all come together on common ground.
I strongly urge you to check out Victoria Park now and throughout the revitalization process, which is scheduled to finish this Summer. I also urge those of you who are not local to Kingston to check out the TD Common Ground Project sites in your community.