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$300,000 makes Gwendolyn MacEwan Park bigger, less round

The Annex space dedicated to one of Toronto's greatest poets just got 12 per cent bigger.

Gwendolyn MacEwen Park, a Walmer Road roundabout just north of Bloor named in her honour six years ago, with a bust of the poet who died in 1987, added two years later, is in the final stages of a refurbishment, reshaping and enlarging occasioned by the city's need to fix a water main in the area.

The budget for the improvement, which includes adding several benches, as well as more grass and flowers, was a little over $300,000.

"We were able to re-imagine the way that little park worked," says Councillor Adam Vaughan, in whose ward it sits. In a city unused to roundabouts, the wide circle of road that surrounded the park was a perennial cause of pedestrian and vehicular confusion, according to Vaughan. To fix that, the new park, which has increased its diameter by about 4 metres, has been made more triangular, a shape Vaughan describes as guitar pick-like. "The edge of the park is closer to the sidewalks now," he says, making it easier for pedestrians, including local school kids, to cross, "but also it feels like when you get to a stop sign, it's a corner."

Vaughan, who knew the poet slightly from his time working in Major Roberts, the old Harbord Street restaurant that later became the Kensington Kitchen and is now Tati Bistro, where MacEwen was a lunch-time regular ("She liked the tortellini," he recalls), is pleased the park in her honour has been improved.

"The cars know what's going on, the pedestrians know what's going on, and Gwendolyn's got more flowers at her feet."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Adam Vaughan

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