Loading articles...

City admits maintenance of Scarborough park has been neglected

Last Updated Sep 15, 2018 at 5:02 pm EDT

A Scarborough man is criticizing the city for neglecting to maintain a pubic park near his home for the last five years.

Karu Jeyakumar, who lives in one of several condos surrounding Hillsborough Park, said he’s been complaining about beer bottles and garbage left on the ground, dog feces near the play structure, and the general lack of upkeep of the property.

“They won’t do any work until somebody complains,” he explained. “Even when they complain, they’ll do half of [the work] and not the rest.

“I know one gentleman has a three-year-old daughter and says he can’t go here because there’s glass pieces here.”

Other residents said they often avoid walking in the park, especially at night.

There had been some confusion over who was responsible for maintaining the space, near McCowan Road and the 401, and at one point the city mistakenly told Jeyakumar it didn’t own the park.

A spokesman from Parks, Forestry & Recreation told CityNews the issue isn’t ownership, but management and operations.

“We share management responsibilities with the condo that assigns certain maintenance to them that might otherwise have been our responsibility,” Matthew Cutler said in an email.

“Sometimes figuring out exactly who is responsible for what can be hard, particularly when the agreement is long-standing and predates current staff at the city and the partner (in this case the condo).”

Scarborough Centre councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker said the park was built in the 1980s and was a bad deal for the city. On the other hand, he added, the developers of the 38-storey condo tower next door got a “sweetheart deal.”

“The taxpayer got stuck maintaining the park, but no member of the public ever comes here,” he said. “The only people who ever come to this park are the people who live in the condos.

“So the people who live in the condos, the condo corp. and the developer should have paid to build this and should have paid to maintain this.”

De Baeremaeker said the deal was made long before he became councillor for the ward, but admitted his office has received complaints about the condition of the park.

“Citizens shouldn’t have to call us, chasing the city of Toronto to take care of a park,” he said. “Our park staff are great people — they do a great job — but obviously we’ve fallen down on the job on this one.”

Crews visit the property once a month for maintenance, which includes trimming hedges and picking up garbage. However, scooping up dog feces isn’t part of the job.

Also if it’s raining, De Baeremaeker said, some of the gardening work may not be carried out, including trimming foliage.

“It is our legal and moral responsibility to take care of it,” he said. “I, as a councillor, have to come in and make sure we do a better job.

“This is not an acceptable standard, so I understand why residents don’t like it, and residents don’t care what happened in the 1980s.”

De Baeremaeker said staff will be at the park on Friday to address some of the issues brought forward.

He has also called a meeting with concerned residents and parks staff to ensure maintenance is carried out on a more consistent basis.