Community Development: Tying Up Loose Ends
by Peter Valerio
On a wintry spring afternoon in Liberty Village, I head out of The Carpet Factory to find lunch. Walking down East Liberty Street, I stop to chat with a group of co-workers from a local company who flag me down. They recognize me as a Beanfield employee from the annual Give Me Liberty street party and have a question about our services. I oblige and continue on my way, dodging a carousel of dogs orbiting a single dog-walker. It’s always impressive to see one person harnessing the leashes of 10 dogs, never losing their cool.
As I walk into the heart of Liberty Village among heavy and annoyingly persistent winds, one thing is evident about this small pocket of Toronto: It is alive — seemingly more so with every passing year. The prominent buildings of the locale ooze with aesthetic and historical character and the street borders of King, Dufferin and Strachan contain the area from the rest of the city, adding to the homey environment that those of us who spend our days here have come to recognize. It was inevitable that Liberty Village would become a popular community for businesses and young professionals.
Support is a crucial pillar of the development of a successful community. It can come from many places, but for a community to thrive, support must be multi-faceted. This is made especially true for communities in the earlier stages of their development. Throw on top of that a short 12-year timeline to develop a heavily populated and thriving community, and you have a real challenge. And you have Liberty Village.
The area boasts an illustrious history dating back to the 19th century, but Liberty Village as the community we know is relatively new, although, it might not seem it to a passerby — a testament to the rate of development. The influx of businesses and developments to the area started around 2004. Since, there has been constant development, so much that the eastern section of the community sees noticeably less sunlight as a result of the lurking condominiums that shot up in what seemed like a matter of days. This is juxtaposed with low-rise red brick buildings, often renovated factories, in the central and western sections. It’s in these historical buildings that Liberty Village finds its aesthetic character.
Detail tends to get overlooked in the context of such rapid development. Who minds the loose ends while most are charging full speed ahead? Who is responsible for recognizing the history and preserving the character? Well, all of us.
Beanfield has recently expanded its scope to help address this problem, to contribute directly to bringing Liberty Village up to the standards that its history deserves. Beanfield set up shop in Liberty Village in the late 1990s and therefore bore witness to the entire development. It’s our backyard.
In partnership with the Liberty Village Residents’ Association and the Planning Partnership, Beanfield is embarking on an effort to improve the landscaping on East Liberty and Pirandello Street. Where there is now dying trees, there will be a new ecosystem-appropriate species of tree planted. Where there are now temporary and often muddy sod strips, there will be new red brick pavers that are aesthetically appropriate for the character of Liberty Village. After all, if we want our community to thrive in the way it can, we have to be willing to help lay some groundwork.
For details about the East Liberty and Pirandello Street Boulevard Improvement Project, please visit East Liberty & Pirandello St. Boulevard Improvement Project