Category Archives: Beautification

Meet Mary Wiens

RoncyWorks Green Team Profiles

In celebration of Garden Days 2018, the Roncesvalles Village BIA is showcasing the dedicated community members who maintain our sidewalk gardens and beautify our vibrant street.

Mary Wiens

Mary Wiens has been a volunteer gardener with RoncyWorks since the community group was established in 2011. Mary helped launch RoncyWorks because “she was excited to continue involvement with other people in the community who had been meeting to discuss some improvements to the public realm along Roncesvalles”. Mary maintains the garden at 305 Roncesvalles in front of The Dizzy Gastro Sports Pub.

During her time on the Roncesvalles Renewed committee, Mary and her fellow residents advocated for improved greenery on the street. Through community engagement and partnerships with local officials, Roncesvalles Renewed secured funding for various beautification initiatives proposed by residents. This included 21 new garden beds and “better planting of street trees, which at that time struggled to survive in small concrete planter boxes that were both an impediment and an eyesore along Roncesvalles.”

Mary’s Garden at 305 Roncy

RoncyWorks sprung from Roncesvalles Renewed in 2011, after committee members and residents expressed interest in maintaining the new gardens. “Using the friendships and relationships we’d forged in that process, it made sense to build on them, by creating teams to tend the new garden beds.”

For Mary, developing friendships with RoncyWorks volunteers and community members has made public gardening especially rewarding. “I’ve met some of the best people in the neighbourhood through this community work, and my encounters with a growing circle of friends any time I go out on Roncy are enormously enriching.” It is this sense of community that also makes each of the gardeners’ beds unique in Mary’s view. “The tough little rose bushes in my bed in front of The Dizzy surprise and delight me every year, as do the plants tended by my fellow gardeners. The planting beds have a charm and personality that you don’t see in professionally maintained beds tended by the city’s parks and rec department.”

Of course, overseeing a public garden is not easy. It requires flexibility and patience. However, learning from one another has allowed Mary and her fellow gardeners to overcome the challenges affecting their gardens. “We share our victories and failures — everything from painting butt tins to a good rainfall, to our battle with dogs and vandals — with each other online. We take the vandalism,the dogs and the cigarette butts more personally. But we also take every good rainfall and every compliment from a passerby more personally as well.”

Meet Karen Pivnick

RoncyWorks Green Team Profiles

In celebration of Garden Days 2018, the Roncesvalles Village BIA is showcasing the dedicated community members who maintain our sidewalk gardens and beautify our vibrant street.

Garden at 413 Roncesvalles

Karen Pivnick is volunteer gardener for Roncy Works and a resident of Roncesvalles Village for over 30 years. She maintains the garden bed at 413 Roncesvalles Ave, in front of the Westerly Bar and Village Meat deli. 

This is Karen’s second  season gardening with RoncyWorks. Karen joined RoncyWorks to combine “her love of gardening” with community involvement. She took over maintenance of the native plant garden planted by former RoncyWorks Green Team volunteer, Heidi Eisenhauer, after she moved away. What she finds most inspiring about gardening is watching her plants evolve and flourish, as well as seeing the joy her garden brings to people.

Karen Pivnick

Karen began gardening at a young age, experiencing the “creativity and work that was required” through her parents early on. As a homeowner, Karen has been “maintaining the plants on her property for over 30 years”.   

Despite her experience, being “a part of RoncyWorks and working with a dedicated group of gardeners” has allowed her to learn more about gardening from fellow community members. Furthermore, maintaining a street garden has given her a different perspective of the craft. “We can care for street gardens as you would a personal garden,” said Karen. “However, you need to manage expectations when a garden is in a public space. Selected plants must be able to survive wear and tear, worn soil and drought conditions.”

Mural Artists to Unveil Preliminary Design Elements at Roncy Rocks for Community Feedback

After two community consultations, the preliminary design elements for the new mural will be presented by artists Philip Cote and Jim Thierry Bravo at Roncy Rocks on June 9. at 1:30 pm. They  will be on hand to discuss their components with community members until 3:30 pm. The community consultation will take place at the site of the future mural oat Garden and Roncesvalles Avenue, next to Solarski Pharmacy. Roncy Rocks will serve as another opportunity for community members to participate in the mural envisioning process.

The mural project is being funded by the Roncesvalles Village BIA in partnership with the City of Toronto’s StreetARToronto program.

To learn more about the project, read our post  A New Mural for Roncesvalles Village.

More information on Rocky Rocks can be found on their website.

 

What will the City’s new Zoning Bylaw Project mean for Roncesvalles?

Zoning Bylaw ProjectSpacing has been covering the progress of the City’s new Zoning Bylaw Project, an effort to harmonize the City’s 43 existing zoning bylaws into one. The discussion is technical and complicated, but its results will affect all new development in the City once passed.

Today, Spacing examines the section of the draft bylaw covering Commercial/Residential, the section governing main streets outside the downtown core such as Roncesvalles.

The BIA urges the community to keep informed about the Zoning Bylaw Project. The City has set up a consultation portal, including an interactive map showing how each area is currently zoned.

Stay awesome, Roncesvalles!

More than a month after heavy machinery rolled onto Roncesvalles, our community seems to be taking the disruption in stride. While plenty of grumbles are heard in local coffee shops, the fact that these grumblings are actually taking place in the coffee shops suggests that the noise and rubble (and the occasional mental image of a giant fireball of death) are not scaring away customers. Indeed, the disruption has become an ideal way of starting a conversation, at least until December when the construction pauses, and we can begin grumbling about the cold Toronto winter instead.

Amidst the grumbles, some folks are actually having fun with the reconstruction. Like the people in Uxbridge, who decided to turn their reconstruction into a  local attraction, some Roncesvalles residents seem to be quite enjoying themselves. Parents can be seen snapping pictures of the massive pits, while their kids gawk at the mighty machines. And blogger Daddy-O snapped the work of some anonymous local artist or artists who turned the rubble pile into sculpture overnight.

Sukha Health SpaAnd some enterprising merchants see opportunity in the disruption, such as the clever folks at Sukha Health Spa (right) who are offering tired souls a chance to de-stress from all the mess. They understand that a positive attitude is good business.

And while our community is remarkably free of whining, a new “Shop Local” campaign shows what truly loyal and supportive customers we have.

Other business areas have launched Shop Local campaigns during reconstructions before, such as the taxpayer-funded campaigns along St. Clair (which have been somewhat undermined by a recent lawsuit whose success depends on convincing people that the reconstruction is a disaster).

But ours is the only Shop Local campaign we know of that was conceived, developed and implemented by the community itself.  Those new posters are the result of volunteer work by our own customers, who understand the neighbourhood’s need for a healthy and successful main street. Local designer Richard Peachey created the poster, and volunteers from Roncesvalles Renewed are distributing them to every business and to homes in the neighbourhood. This is truly amazing, and we are deeply grateful for such generosity.

The BIA would like to thank Mary Wiens, Martha Goodings, Veronica Feihl, Richard Peachey and all the hard-working volunteers at Roncesvalles Renewed. And thanks to all our great customers who have not let the disruption prevent them from enjoying the best street in Toronto! With your support our street will survive and thrive during this reconstruction, with our good humour and positive spirits intact.

Stay awesome, Roncesvalles!