The Best Downtown Parks

The one major drawback to living in a condominium is the lack of outdoor space; more specifically the lack of a backyard.

But there are some great parks in the downtown core, and some terrific condominiums right next door.

Here is a more detailed look…

trinitybellwoods.jpg

See the photo above?

Fast forward one month from today, and that’s exactly what Trinity-Bellwoods Parkwill look like.  Leaves on the ground, and beautiful fall foliage to provide a picturesque view of Toronto’s trademark: The CN Tower.

King Street West and Queen Street West have been labelled “trendy” and “up-and-coming” for years now, and while most people think about the retail shopping strips or the restaurants and cafes, I personally think that Trinity-Bellwoods Park is the highlight of living in downtown’s “west end.”

It’s rather easy to get case of cabin-fever when you live inside a concrete room, aka “a condominium,” but consider that there are several parks in the downtown area that can provide a breath of fresh air.

Trinity-Bellwoods Park
With the main entrance just off Queen Street West, this park is bordered by Crawford Street and Gore Vale Avenue on the north/south, and by Dundas Street West and Queen Street West.  The park features a community fitness and sports centre complete with an indoor pool located at 151 Crawford Street, as well as tennis courts, volleyball nets, and an outdoor skating rink in the winter.  The main park area has field space for soccer, rugby, and football, and there are three full softball fields.

There is a designated leash-free area for people to walk their dogs, making this park one of the main locations for dog-walkers in the city’s west-end.

Condominiums such as Chocolate Lofts and Candy Factory Loftshave seen a huge appreciation in value over the last few years partly due to the fact that the gates to Trinity-Bellwoods is literally across the street.  Home owners on streets such as Gore Vale Ave, Manning Ave, Euclid Ave, and Claremont Street, among others, are all less than a five minute walk to the park and all it has to offer.

The section of Queen Street west of Bathurst Street is home to a very vibrant retail strip while still somewhat artsy (despite the presence of Starbucks), and Trinity-Bellwoods Park just adds to the allure of the area.

Stanley Park
This little known park just off King Street West provides a fantastic backdrop for the owners of east-facing units at 15 Stafford Street.  Stanley Park is about 1/8 the size of Trinity-Bellwoods, and it receives even less attention.  Bordered by King Street West and Wellington Street, the park consists of one baseball diamond, and an enormous grassy field that could easily play host to two simultaneous sporting events.

I’ve always admired the building at 15 Stafford Street if for no other reason than the proximity to this park.  The west-facing units stare at another building, and the north and south-facing units look at King & Wellington street respectively.  But those gorgeous east-facing units look at nothing but greenery, with the CN Tower and the buildings of downtown in the background.

The creme of the crop at 15 Stafford Street has to be the main-floor units with the large 300 square-foot patios, which have a gate that opens to the park itself.  It almost feels like your very own private park.

Coronation Park, Little Norway Park & Baseball Fields
I have a friend who lives at 650 Queen’s Quay in a fantastic building, but what makes his 17th floor unit even more spectacular is the view out over Little Norway Park and the baseball diamond.  When we looked at this unit for the first time, we actually watched twenty minutes of a softball game as we sat on what would eventually become his balcony.

Just on the other side of Stadium Road, is Coronation Park and the Baseball Fields which probably number 7-8 just off hand.  This park is located just south of the Princess Gates outside the C.N.E. and on the other side of Lake Shore Boulevard.

Currently, there is a ton of development on the lands just north of Lake Shore Boulevard, and while I’ve called these projects horrid in the past due to the desolate area and it’s lack of infrastructure, once it is eventually built up, the residents will be a stone’s throw from acres and acres of park lands and sporting fields.  The waterfront trail is another bonus as it leads all the way into Mimico.

Alexandra Park
Located at Bathurst/Dundas, this is a very small yet versatile park.  What do I mean by “versatile?”  Well the tennis courts are turned into an outdoor hockey rink in the winter!  And those that play pickup hockey know there are not nearly enough public, outdoor rinks in the downtown core.

The park also contains a field large enough for a game of soccer….or cricket, if you so desire, but mostly it’s used for dog-walking like so many others in the city.

Some of the townhouses at the Carr Street complex actually back onto the park itself, and some of the owners have fastened a gated entrance to come and go to the park as they please.  I actually saw a large 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom unit in this complex not too long ago that was home to a family, and by that I mean parents and TWO children.  Not only did they have a small backyard behind their townhouse, but they had access to the park itself.  Very seldom do I see a condominium that can act as an actual “home” per se, but when you combine the backyard and the park adjacent to it, I’m sure this family is quite happy planting roots where they are.

Moss Park
Haha – just kidding.  This park is a place you might want to avoid, unless you are a crack addict or would like to be robbed, stabbed, or both.  Brave souls have been known to venture over here to play hockey at Moss Park Arena on Tuesday nights, but you have to know what you’re getting yourself into. 

During the daytime, the park and the sidewalks are flooded with transients who frequent the shelters and missions across the street, but that doesn’t stop the kids hockey tournaments at Moss Park!  Seriously, I’ve witnessed parents walking their kids into the arena and I have to give my head a shake.

This gives us a moral dilemma: is the situation above remedied by a) building more hockey arenas for kids or b) ridding the area of the crack heads and vagrants?  Hmmm……how about both?

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  1. bill says:

    Colonel Smith Park in Long Branch is amazing. Walk to the lake. Skate outdoors. Fantastic tree. Sail a boat. For those who don’t know this is in Long Branch and is considered one of the best up and coming neighborhoods. Everywhere you see new houses springing up within a few minutes walk of the park. We love walking and biking the trails…think beaches without the crowds..

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