While celebrating Garden Days 2018, the Roncesvalles Village BIA reflects on the importance of streetside gardens to our community and streetscape. Garden Days is Canada’s national celebration of gardening and its impact on communities across the country. Garden Days begins on Saturday June 16 and concludes on Sunday June 24.
RoncyWorks, the Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden, and the Roncesvalles Village BIA will be hosting a garden tour on Sunday June 24th from 1:00 to 3:00 pm starting at the Peace Garden, at the intersection of Dundas and Roncesvalles.
The planting and maintenance of streetside gardens is an ongoing collaboration between all three groups to create a colourful and scenic environment, and is supported by the Roncesvalles Village BIA.
Established in 2011, RoncyWorks is a community volunteer group made up of residents that aim to enhance the Roncesvalles Avenue streetscape.
The history of the existing sidewalk gardens on Roncesvalles Avenue dates back to 2009, when the Roncesvalles Village BIA set up the sub-committee named Roncesvalles Renewed to focus on potential enhancements for the street during the anticipated reconstruction. Composed of community members and the BIA’s Beautification Committee Chair, Roncesvalles Renewed consulted local groups, residents’ associations and key stakeholders. The group recommended the construction of garden beds, made design recommendations to City planners, and assisted in the planting of more than 100 diverse, native trees. In 2011, the City of Toronto constructed 21 garden beds along Roncesvalles. The RVBIA assumed responsibility for their maintenance, and began the collaborations with volunteers to maintain the street’s garden beds, along with help from member businesses.
The Friends of Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden is a sister organization formed in 2009 to turn a barren jut of concrete at a busy intersection into a green, commemorative, community gathering place. Multiple community partners pressed forward the remarkable design and interesting features seen today. The Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation joined in to share history identifying the origin of this portion of Dundas Street as an Indigenous path, and local participation in the War of 1812. They worked together with the Peace Garden group on the City’s first cooperative community arts project with a Toronto youth group, which produced a set of 24 engraved pavers known as the Peace Path. It winds around the Garden. These projects are illustrated on a jointly sponsored plaque. At the entrance to the Peace Path is the City’s first utility box painting by an Indigenous artist, created to celebrate the opening of the Peace Garden in 2016. Each year Indigenous plantings, complete with story and celebration, are featured. This year, Chief Stacey Laforme and two local children planted sacred tobacco. Watch it grow, in a large circle on the eastern side of the Peace Garden.
Garden Days is about celebrating how gardening contributes to a cleaner environment and happier community, which is something the RVBIA has prioritized with their streetside gardens. The RVBIA, RoncyWorks and the Friends of DRPG volunteers have prioritized the planting of more pollinator, and sustainable perennial plants that can weather Toronto winters and regrow in the spring. Annual plants, typically colourful flowers, complement the perennials to create lush gardens bordering the street and sidewalk. We encourage you to take a walk down Roncesvalles to see or sit by the gardens, watch for a butterfly, and enjoy the close-to-nature ambiance of the street.
We will be producing a series of blog posts to celebrate our gardens and the extraordinary gardeners who volunteer their time to design and maintain them.