By Sheri-Selway

Hardly anyone knows “Simcoe Tot Lot” at the corner of Bay Street and Strachan, yet it is listed on the City Website as a Park.  How did it come to be?  Why is it there?  Many years ago, people lived on BOTH sides of Strachan and people lived where that open space is now.  Bay Street was straightened – it used to curl around in front of those houses beside the park – one resident told me nearly to their porch!  Of course, that was before Bayfront Park.  Strachan was also moved a bit so it matched the entrance to drive down to Bayfront Park.

A proposed “Perimeter Road” had been discussed in a variety of planning documents since the 1960’s and the properties on Strachan were acquired during the period of “urban renewal” or “Neighbourhood Improvement Program” as it was called.  In 1990, council adopted a plan for a 4 – 6 lane “perimeter road” with an interchange at Bay Street crossing to the south onto Stuart.

Eventually it was decided NOT to build the Perimeter Road.  For more information see page 25 of the  West Harbour Opportunity and Challenges Report of 2002 on the City website ( ).

In summary, houses have been removed from that land for over 40 years due to urban renewal and a possible perimeter road. Most current residents only remember the space as grassy area, an overlook to the Bay.   Some residents remember the lost homes. A few residents remember their homes.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to go into so much history but I wanted you, our neighbours, to understand just why that space is there.  So, for years it is considered a “park” or open space.  People would park there for the July 1 fireworks or “Aquafest” (no longer a festival).  Kids would hang out, play ball, fly kites etc.  Just grass and open space.

Then, residents became interested in planting a garden there about the same time the Chinese Community got a grant for a cultural garden.  It was perfect.  An initial grant, plus a LOT of fundraising, and committee work, the Sunset Garden was born.  Volunteers spent hours planning, digging, weeding and planting.  (Still do.)  People contributed “Sunset” poems in a variety of languages. A donation walk was made.  United Nations flags were hung out and the grand opening happened about 6 years ago.  Small events took place on the site.

The City now wants to sell that space to the developer who is also doing the Jamesville site.  But small green open spaces in built up areas are extremely important.  Yes, I know, there is a park across the street.  But this is different. It is accessible and many possibilities exist.  Pollinator gardens already exist.  But use your imagination…. So much more is possible.

We agree with sustainable development, and not increasing the urban boundary.  We also see the importance of small green spaces for accessibility, mental and physical health.

You can help support the Save Our Park (Sunset Garden) campaign by getting a sign in your front yard. Signs are available at the website.