By Sue Stefko
(Appeared in the Glebe Report, December 2018)
It was a cold, rainy and windy November day – but that wasn’t enough to stop the intrepid residents of the Glebe Annex from coming out to celebrate the re-opening of the community’s only park, Dalhousie South Park.
Construction began at the beginning of August, and while the original plan was to complete construction within two weeks, delays occurred after it was realized that the planned placement of the park’s gazebo did not fit code. Plans had to be redrawn to move the gazebo back a metre, and a new building permit issued, delaying completion significantly. Finally, work was completed the last week of October, and the community association mobilized quickly to welcome the renewed park into the neighbourhood.
The November 3rd celebration was attended by Councillor David Chernushenko, whose support was instrumental to the project. While the park renewal was already scheduled, Councillor Chernushenko’s decision to use Capital Ward’s cash in lieu of parkland funds dramatically enhanced the planned renewal, increasing the number of play structures and the overall usability of the park.
The re-opening was also an opportunity to celebrate those who had been instrumental in the creation of the original park in 1995. Mr. Ray Lalonde, who has lived in the neighbourhood since 1952 (after he was expropriated from his previous house when the federal government was building the Natural Resource Canada buildings between Lebreton St South and Booth St.), helped cut the ribbon. Mr. Lalonde, known affectionately by his neighbours as the ‘Mayor of Plymouth St.’ has long been an active community member, and was involved in the efforts to create the park. As part of the Dalhousie South Residents Association, he fought alongside other neighbourhood residents for the city to build a park where three derelict houses stood, between 343 and 347 Bell St South. To our knowledge, he has lived in the Glebe Annex the longest of any of the current residents and is the only person to attend both the initial opening as well as the re-opening ceremonies.
While it was a fitting moment to honour the history of the park, the future of the park, and those for whom it is being renewed, were not forgotten. Two neighbourhood children, Claire and Owen, took their places alongside Mr. Lalonde to cut the ribbon to officially open the park.
Of course, no ceremony is complete without cake – and so to wrap up the event, and to help transition to the more social part of the occasion, the Carey family cut the cake to start the celebrations. The family, which has lived in the neighbourhood for nearly a decade, have long been supporters of the park, helping keep it looking its best by participating in the community’s spring and fall clean-ups. Their sons, James and Jack, tested out the equipment, both before and after the ceremony, giving it a “two thumbs up.” In fact, while most of the adults were shivering, the children continued to enjoy the new park with enthusiasm, seemingly impervious to the cold.
Although most did not linger long for the social part of the event due to the driving winds, the goal was accomplished – members of the community gathered to welcome an important part of the neighbourhood back into the fold, celebrating both its history and its future.