Following the reconstruction of Roncesvalles Avenue in 2011, some community volunteers spontaneously started weeding and picking up litter in the 21 plant beds along the street. More gardeners volunteered and by 2013, the RoncyWorks Green Team was formed in partnership with the Roncesvalles Village BIA. Over the years, their work has enjoyed much praise and recognition.
Their labour of love has brought a lot of joy to the neighbourhood:
- Not only have the gardeners studied and selected suitable plants for the various conditions, they have weeded, tended, and nurtured the garden beds, they have improved the soil, picked up litter and sometimes supplemented the watering.
- They have favoured predominantly Canadian native shrubs and flowering species, which attract butterflies, other pollinators, and birds.
- One of the most rewarding activities for the street gardeners has been to chat with passers-by about plants, trees, and pollinator species. It’s been an opportunity for horticultural education, and urban habitat preservation.
- Also, the gardeners act as unofficial street ambassadors, giving directions or on-the-spot reviews for nearby attractions. They enjoy a cooperative partnership with the Roncesvalles Village BIA in welcoming people to the area.
- They have enhanced our cultural identity as an eco-friendly community, and have extended the ecosystems of High Park into the urban neighbourhood.
It’s been a delight to see an increase in pollinators in these gardens over the years. Watching a Monarch butterfly linger in a garden on the east side of Roncy, flutter across the street to settle in the garden on the west side, and seeing people photograph Black Swallowtail butterflies hovering amongst flowers on the street confirms its use as a corridor for pollinators travelling through the Village.
These gardens are cherished by many in the community for their diversity and eco-friendly approach that contrasts with the formal corporate gardening typical of many main streets that have planters. And, by many business members and directors of the RVBIA who showed appreciation to our street gardeners, which amplified the goodwill generated by beautiful street gardens.
Roncy’s unique gardens, including the Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden that was constructed in 2016, and the community volunteers behind them all, have been formally recognized, receiving numerous awards listed below.
Most of the Green Team members have gardened on Roncesvalles for 7 to 10 years and five were part of the BIA’s original community consultation committee for the main street redesign. This shows how deeply embedded volunteering for our community has been on Roncy.
RoncyWorks wants to express our deep gratitude to all these dedicated volunteers — most of whom continued to tend the gardens during the pandemic in 2020 — and to former Green Team members who put in a lot of time over the years, before they moved away.
During the current lockdown, the gardens continue to flourish on their own. It’s a testament to the attention and care they’ve received over the years.
LIST OF AWARDS:
2011 TABIA, to RVBIA for Streetscape Improvements (Roncesvalles Renewed)
2012 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Awards: to four members of the RVBIA Beautification Committee, RoncyWorks, and the Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden for community service.
2013 TABIA, to RVBIA for innovative volunteer program RoncyWorks
2016 Ontario Horticultural Association, District 15 Youth Award Grant, to DRPG for tulip planting event
2017 Ontario Horticultural Association, William Baker Youth Award, to DRPG
2017 TABIA, to RVBIA and DRPG for the Peace Garden
2018 International Downtown Association, Award of Excellence, to RVBIA, City of Toronto, DRPG
2019 Community Leadership Award, Arif Virani MP: A. Bushby for DRPG
2019 Community Recognition Award, Bhutilla Karpoche MPP: Friends of DRPG
2019 TABIA, to RVBIA butterfly and pollinator gardening initiatives
2021 Parkdale-High Park Community Champion Award, MP Arif Virani: RoncyWorks Green Team Volunteers