Taking it to the Street

It took a village to raise that baby!

Beautiful day on Roncesvalles avenue showing passengers boarding streetcar, trees, plant beds and shoppers.With a team of many BIA members, TTC delegates, advocating residents, and City of Toronto officials, the long, arduous task of co – creating the Roncesvalles streetscape was a group effort.  The process was based on consultation, collaboration and transparency.

Several members of RoncyWorks were involved in the process and are pleased to report that Roncy’s development history is intact, safe and on the cutting edge of experimental projects.  For example the Greening of Roncy by local volunteers and the success of the Cigarette Litter Prevention Campaign is inspiring other neighbourhoods.

Creating an accessible street that people would enjoy for generations was the group mandate. And, if the TTC has to make some adjustments to get that perfect, well that’s OK with me.

The group had to scale their vision to budget and other limitations, while pursuing the common interests of all businesses, residents, motorists, cyclists, transit users and pedestrians of all ages — some with strollers, walkers or wheelchairs.

Roncy Works… because we all work together.

More on:  Community engagement with Roncesvalles Renewed

No rip ups planned along Roncy

TTC work anticipated for 2016

access ramp from new street car

A step-free access ramp will be located at the second doorway of each new TTC streetcar. (Randy Risling / Toronto Star)

To accommodate the accessible ramps for the new streetcars that will be traveling along the 504 route, some minor adjustments will need to be made to TTC designed bump outs along Roncesvalles.

Correction: Back when the TTC bump outs were being installed there were still some unknowns. In fact, the ramp design for the bump outs was not finalized until 2013. [The original plans of 2011 were modified and finalized in 2013, before TTC had settled on the purchasing of the expected, new streetcars.]

According to TTC Executive Director of Corporate Communications, Brad Ross, “not the entire bump out will be adjusted, just a 4 square metre area of each bump out.  The work is slated for 2016 and will be done during non-peak times.”

There will be the odd lane restriction, but the road will not be closed, the track will not be ripped out along Roncy, motorists, pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to use the road, bike lanes and sidewalks.

When asked, Councillor Gord Perks commented that it is his understanding “the TTC will concentrate their efforts on Spadina, Bathurst and Dundas accessibility issues first. “Roncevalles will only experience minimal disruption during non peak hours and work will be done quickly in days, not months.”

In terms of timing, the TTC is aiming to co-ordinate this work with the City of Toronto and coincide construction with the already scheduled intersection rebuild at Queen-King-Roncesvalles-Queensway.  Streetcars will be out of service as a result of the intersection work, but will be replaced by scheduled buses.

“Rest assured, the TTC is sensitive to further disruption to the community and will do all it can to mitigate disruption,” says Ross. “There will be lots of signage and advance notice to the community and businesses”.

RoncyWorks Garden Gallery 2014

A momentous year of urban gardening by our Green Team yielded plenty of delights on the street and lots of shots to share. In these photos taken among our 21 planting beds, you’ll see what evolved, and both treasures and trouble spots discovered since spring. Even this late in the season, the fall gardens are a reminder of what makes this neighbourhood awesome.

May Flowers and June Blooms

July’s Garden Glories

August’s Beauteous Bounty

Photos above by Heidi Eisenhauer

Roncesvalles in Bloom 2013 & 2014

Photos above by Jackie Taschereau

 

 

 

Greening of Roncy Part 2

What’s involved in urban street gardening along Roncy

Plant bed on Roncesvalles Avenue with water hydrant

Photo Credit: Heidi Eisenhauer

Designing and maintaining the plant beds along an urban main street, is not the same as gardening in your own yard, says RoncyWorks Green Team co-lead, Heidi Eisenhauer. “The street gardens face conditions and adversity that private gardens don’t have to.” For two years now, Heidi has been ordering the plants that are delivered to the High Park Library, which keeps them in safety until they can be picked up. The co-leads monitor the beds and coordinate the ongoing and one-off volunteer efforts. Although at the moment we average one volunteer per bed, it’s a lot of work for one person, so we’re always looking for other gardeners who are prepared to commit some time each week or a few hours per month to looking after a bed. For those who can’t commit to weekly or monthly tending, there are one-off tasks, around planting and mulching time that could use extra hands.

Planting starts in June, and continues through the summer. The trick is to get the plants in as soon as possible after they are delivered. Mulching takes place in July.

Watering is key after the plants go in. We have a water service that comes Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, (but not on holiday Mondays). Luckily we have water hydrants, but they are not in each bed. The trick is to get the crew to use nozzles and not just pour water on the soil from open hoses.

Plant bed on Roncesvalles Avenue

Photo Credit: Heidi Eisenhauer

“I find there are periods when I need to give my bed extra water, especially when I first plant something or when the weather is very hot without much rain, explains Carol Holland, a devoted volunteer who lives in Bloor West, but makes the trip to Roncy because she enjoys being part of this community effort.

Maintenance involves weeding and digging out shrubs, trimming, deadheading, replanting, and observing how all the plants are doing and affecting each other, and other problems that arise, like litter, theft, vandalism and damage from pedestrians and dogs. “It can be disheartening sometimes. We spend so much time and energy to beautify our street. But, all in all, these are just minor setbacks; if you consider the whole street, I think the beds look pretty good and there is not too much litter most of the time,” says one of our more recent volunteer, Catherine Gautry.

Welcoming other gardeners

We’re always on the lookout for local gardeners who would be willing to lend a hand, as it not only makes less work for everyone, but it’s wonderful to be part of this group effort. We get a lot of praise and encouragement from passersby and from each other. If you would like to join in, please contact greenteam@roncyworks.org.

Read how the Green Team got started and our approach.

Greening of Roncy Part 1

Flower bed on Roncesvalles Avenue

Photo Credit: Heidi Eisenhauer

When plans for the reconstruction of Roncesvalles Avenue were in formation, trees and plant beds were one of the top features that residents and businesses wanted to see along our main street. So, when the sidewalks were reconstructed in 2011, the City installed 21 plant beds and several hydrants with the agreement that they be maintained by the Roncesvalles Village BIA.

After local residents began compulsively weeding and watering some of the beds, RoncyWorks formed a Green Team to coordinate the efforts of these local volunteers. For over two years, the RoncyWorks Green team has tended these 21 “gardens” along Roncy.

Leading the efforts of our now 21 Green Team volunteers, are Heidi Eisenhauer, a native plant specialist and co-lead Barbara Japp, member of the Horticultural Societies of Parkdale & Toronto. Supporting the team are the Roncy Sweeps who clear litter out of the beds including the infestation of cigarette butts. Fortunately, we’re seeing a decrease in the volume of cigarette butt litter this summer, since the installation of ashcans along the street.

Our approach to urban street gardens

Flower bed on Roncesvalles Avenue

Photo Credit: Heidi Eisenhauer

In planning the gardens, plant choices are based on xeriscaping, a water-efficient approach to gardening. Although the BIA has hired a company to water the plants three times per week, without a good rainfall and adequate watering the beds can go dry. To keep the aphids in check, ladybugs are added.

The volunteers assigned to each garden are encouraged to design the space based on what’s already thriving in their plant beds, the soil composition, available light, empty spaces, and input from nearby shopkeepers who are particularly interested. Heidi encourages a selection of perennials, particularly native plants. After putting together the list of new plants desired, Heidi orders the plants over time as needed, starting in June. This gives the team a chance to observe what has survived over the winter, how the plant beds are faring against local foot traffic including dogs, and other design criteria for urban street gardens.

Learn what’s involved in urban street gardening along Roncy.