by Tom Rakocevic
We have all driven or taken a TTC bus past the forested William Baker neighbourhood along Sheppard Ave. W., near Keele St., but few of us have ever entered it.
Councillor Anthony Perruzza wants that to change and has worked on an agreement with the Canada Lands Company to open this forested neighbourhood to the community as early as Autumn 2014.
The William Baker Neighbourhood was established in the 1950’s to house military personnel serving at the Canadian Forces Base Downsview.
The base was decommissioned and closed in 1996, and the neighbourhood was eventually emptied leaving unused homes in a secluded small urban forest.
Currently, the William Baker neighbourhood is a part of the greater Downsview Park lands and owned by the Canada Lands Company with a long-term plan for development. Councillor Perruzza has been fighting to see this neighbourhood preserved for its heritage aspects and natural beauty.
“The military base closed twenty years ago. It’s time that the community has access to this beautiful space.” says Councillor Perruzza.
Canada Lands has received permission to demolish the vacant houses but thanks to the work of Councillor Perruzza, they have also agreed to take down the fencing and make this area into park space open to the public.
Their landscape plan for the area shows a number of enhancements to this park space including new pathways for pedestrians and cyclists, new benches and garbage bins to reduce litter, as well as new trees.
The creation of a new park is welcome news to the community. This fall, make sure to take a stroll through the William Baker neighbourhood and enjoy the wonderful colours of a lovely urban forest right in our neighbourhood.