Category Archives: Community News

Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden Celebrates International Downtown Award

On Friday, May 17th, the Roncesvalles Village BIA and the Friends of Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden celebrated an Award of Excellence for Public Space Improvements received from the International Downtown Association (IDA) for the Dundas Roncesvalles Peace  Garden (DRPG) . This Award is particularly significant because the IDA values collaboration. In its realization, this project galvanized the support of many community groups, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation,  artists from both communities, and the City of Toronto. The project features heritage recognition, green street gardening,, community welcoming, pollinator habitat development, and acts as a living dedication of renewed relations between our community and Toronto’s indigenous people.

The IDA is a world leader in taking up the challenge of revitalizing downtowns around the world, from the USA, Canada, Europe and further around the globe, by encouraging best practices, and broad-based learning. It recognizes that innovative and effective renewals absolutely need cooperation between multiple interests, to promote good works. This was the only project given an Award of Excellence for improvements to public space, from the IDA in Canada for 2018. A copy of the plaque for the IDA Award was conferred upon the City.

PLANT Architect, and, the group of officials who helped bring the project to life attended, and were thanked for working so well with our community.

Part of the outdoor ceremony involved sharing with a representative of the Mississaugas of the Credit, with whom we exchanged sacred tobacco seeds, and planted sage — this year’s featured indigenous plant at the Peace Garden.

In our neighbourhood, the search to better understand our living history of Indigenous habitation, loss, and dispossession, starts with the Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden. This Peace Garden is dedicated to seeking better relationships between our peoples, and with the land, which desperately need healing.  Our intentions are embedded in this little plot of living green, restful, revitalized public space.

A class of grade 7 students who participated in our annual Tulips for Peace program, attended to see the beauty of the tulips they planted last fall.

Annual Spring Clean Up

On April 28th, join over 200,000 residents, students, businesses, organizations and communities as we clean Toronto together for the 16th annual spring cleanup!

The Roncesvalles Village BIA & RoncyWorks will be hosting the Roncesvalles Avenue Community Clean Up. We will be encouraging BIA members to clean in front of their businesses on the sidewalk and their back laneway. We will be inviting community members to assist us with the gardens and tree grates along Roncesvalles.

All items needed for the clean up will be provided by the City of Toronto and the Roncesvalles Village BIA.  We will have two groups meeting at 10:50AM; one meeting at Dundas and Roncesvalles Peace Garden, and the other meeting and Howard Johnson Inn. We will make our way up the street at 11:00AM and meet in the middle of Roncesvalles Avenue to end the clean around 1:00PM. Dress comfortably and for the weather!

 

Meet Jackie Taschereau

RoncyWorks Green Team Profiles

Jackie Taschereau has been volunteering with RoncyWorks since 2011. She maintains the gardens at 233 and 223 Roncesvalles.

Jackie’s Garden at 233 Roncy

Jackie often refers to her involvement with RoncyWorks as gardening in the “Public Realm” and for good reason. There are many lessons she’s learnt from maintaining a sidewalk garden, including how the physical design of the bed impacts how the public interacts with it. “The slightly raised edge of a planter bed is an irresistible challenge to small children, demanding to be walked along to prove balance skills. This is preceded and followed by hopping on and off the bench.”

Jackie’s Garden at 223 Roncy

Another challenge of Jackie’s and her RoncyWorks volunteers is protecting the gardens from doubling as urban landfills. “Probably as much time is spent picking up garbage as is actually spent on gardening”. The litter Jackie and other gardeners deal far too often includes “cigarette butts and packs, coffee cups, food containers and remains, wrappers, soda cans and plastic bottles.”

Despite these setbacks, Jackie has found the benefits of tending to sidewalk gardens enriching in many ways. “I now have far better knowledge of tough plants that will survive in shade or partial shade”. Another “unforeseen benefit” of gardening has been meeting people from all walks and a newfound understanding of the importance of public gardens to communities. “I’ve got to talk to all sorts of people on the street, whom I would never otherwise have had conservations with,” said Jackie. “I find myself looking at public plantings all over the city, noticing what works and where there are problems.”

 

Meet Abby Bushby

RoncyWorks Green Team Profiles

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

Abby Bushby

Abby Bushby is the Chair the Friends of Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden organization and a volunteer gardener with Roncy Works. She maintains the Peace Garden located at the eastern corner of Roncy and Dundas.

The Peace Garden was constructed in 2016, “after a few years of research, advocacy, community collaborations, artistic planning, and drumming up of support.” This collaboration included a partnership with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, who have designated the Peace Garden as a “place of heritage and continued interest through the Moccasin Identifier Project.

According to Abby, advocating for the Peace Garden was about beautification and commemoration. “Gardening at the Peace Garden grew out of a wish to green and beautify a sad and sterile intersection at Dundas and Roncy with an odd, concrete jut of land,” said Abby. “The Peace Garden celebrates the historical origins of this portion of Dundas Street, as both an Indigenous path, and as a military road for the Battle of York 1813.” In addition to the historical significance of the Peace Garden, Abby also appreciates “nurturing the native species of trees, grasses and floral plants, as well as the companionship of other Peace Garden and RoncyWorks gardeners.”

Sprouting Sacred Tobacco

One unique attribute of the Peace Garden is how it features indigenous sacred plants and art engravings, known as the Peace Path. “We continue to work with Indigenous partners to grow and illustrate traditional Indigenous agriculture. Last year it was a Three Sisters Mound of corn, beans, squash, as taught to us by growers at Six Nations of the Grand River. This year we are growing sacred tobacco from seeds gifted by a woman from Sheguiandah First Nation, and planted by Chief Stacey Laforme of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.”

Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden

Maintaining the Peace Garden and its public square is raft of challenges, due in large part to its location and popularity. “Maintenance of the Garden presents some challenge. Maria Kolos and I sweep up butts and pull coffee cups out of the plant beds. We clear furniture and advertisement clutter from the displayed community arts projects.” However, receiving compliments on the Peace Garden and explaining its purpose to visitors makes all of the maintenance worth it. “More rewarding though, every time we garden, one or more passersby stop to say ‘thanks’, and to chat about the purposes of the Peace Garden, which enriches us all.  In every conversation we learn a little, and impart a little more appreciation of public, streetside garden for a greener community.”

Learn more about the Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden here. 

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.”