Forest Hill Village Undergoes Positive Transformations By Joshua Sherman

In the coming months Forest Hill Village should end up with a much smoother stretch of Spadina Road, more places to park, and a beautified streetscape.

That’s thanks to the four construction projects that are taking place in the neighbourhood from now through to the fall, including the latest phase of the Business Improvement Area’s (BIA) master plan, a cost-shared effort between the BIA and the City that began with the 2011 redesign of Montclair Parkette.

Among the improvements, the City is adding three new parking spots this month to the south side of Thelma Avenue just east of Spadina Road, which will be followed by the creation of 11 more spaces next month at the Green P parking lot on the corner of Spadina Road and Thelma Avenue.

“We’re gonna have 14 new parking spaces online in the Village, and parking is a real problem for many, so that’s a good news story for sure,” says Yvonne Bambrick, the BIA’s executive director.

As well, the eastern edge of Suydam Park bordered by Spadina Road is currently getting a makeover as another stage of the Forest Hill Village Masterplan is rolling out. “The project is very much about how to give a kind of front address to a park,” says Lisa Rapaport, design leader on the project from PLANT Architect Inc., the firm tasked with the job. Once finished, the North Gateway Streetscape Project will see the strip of Suydam Park adorned with new planters, picnic benches, light fixtures, and more.

The area is already well lit for pedestrians, so that’s not the point of the added fixtures, says Rapaport. The reasons are aesthetic: “It’s about making these kind of little sparkly bits along the street,” she explains. This effect is achieved by installing inverted lamps (basically perforated poles with lighting at the base). Filtering through the holes, the light is less and less intense as it reaches the top.

Soon to be surrounded by this dappled lighting, a gathering area at the south end of the park is in the works, too. It’ll be the sort of place suited for live music, or perhaps a poetry reading, suggests Rapaport.

Overall, with projects like the north gateway effort, “the BIA is trying to improve the streetscape of the Forest Hill Village, trying to make it pedestrian friendly,” says Peter McClelland, the association’s chair. Meanwhile, drivers and cyclists alike can look forward to a freshly paved Spadina Road. McClelland says the city plans to resurface it from Thelma down to Montclair in the fall.

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