Ramsden Park dispute dubbed ‘Rampgate’
Locals argue $766,000 ramp on Hillsboro won’t be all that accessible come winter
Signs protesting the cost and size of an accessibility ramp planned for the Hillsboro Avenue entrance to Ramsden Park have popped up all around the neighbourhood. Construction is slated to begin Sept. 5; and some residents hope to delay it until alternative designs can be explored.
The ramp is part of Phase 2 of a $7 million revitalization effort for Ramsden Park paid for with Ontario Planning Act, Sections 37 and 45 funds: money contributed by developers in exchange for additional height or density on new projects.
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, of Ward 27 Toronto Centre–Rosedale, said the 14-acre park was in dire need of restoration work and there was significant design consultation back in 2014.
“What started as a $2 to $3 million restoration project has now ballooned out to over $7 million. But it was the right thing to do.… When we make those investments with the city, especially for a signature park like Ramsden, they are 50- to 75-year builds. So this type of money amortized over that period of time is more than good value,” said Wong-Tam. “We have to build city infrastructure that is going to be inclusive to everyone.”
The ramp will cost approximately $766,000 and will be in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). It will have five switchbacks and will measure 187 metres long and 2.1 metres wide. Approximately 15 old trees will need to be removed before its installation.
Kathrin Bohr, a local resident and member of the ABC Residents’ Association called the ramp “a massive metal intrusion” and noted the final design was only just presented to the public recently without feedback.
Bohr and her husband James Murphy argued that, since the city does not clear any paths or ramps of ice and snow in the winter, the ramp will be inaccessible to anyone during that time.
“It’s an incredibly expensive project, and it’s not needed … and the fact that it won’t be maintained in the winter pretty much renders it useless several months a year,” said Murphy. According to Bohr, residents have dubbed the controversy “Rampgate.” Irina Stoian lives in one of the buildings nearest to the Hillsboro entrance, and has posted signs on all of the marked trees protesting their removal.
“I realized it was going to be massive and would devastate that whole green area on Hillsboro hill,” said Stoian.
Wong-Tam said city staff have identified all of the trees as either sick or invasive species and noted they all will be replaced three to one.
Yet residents are pointing to three other accessible entrances into the park as further justification for their argument that the ramp just isn’t needed.
Dave Nosella, project manager of capital construction at the City of Toronto, said staff recently met with concerned residents and decided to hold off on construction until further consultation could take place.
Irina Stoian at the Hillsboro entrance where a ramp will go in this fall