No Park for Book Lovers

Barbara Hall Park

There are a surprising number of parks, small and smaller, in the Gay Village in Toronto. Few of them are particularly welcoming for the book lover who wants a quiet, comfortable place to read. And by few, I pretty much mean none.

They could be lovely places, but there is a certain level of uncertainty in the parks that has made me uncomfortable in them for years. There was a recent article on Barbara Hall Park, formerly Cawthra Square Park, which sits right beside the 519 Church Street Community Centre. The article details crime (both actual and fear of) as a result of the people who inhabit the park day and night.

The gaybourhood has always been a little unsafe. The LGBT+ community is fairly tolerant of “the other,” and often turn a blind eye to minor problems. I do it myself – I refuse to be a curtain-twitcher who reports every sketchy incident. But people are losing their lives in the neighbourhood and there is often an element of drug/alcohol abuse and proximity to parks.

They want us to take the parks back by using them, but Barbara Hall Park is widely used for events, by people with kids and for its dog run. And there’s still a problem. The few times Kelly and I have been there, we end up next to someone in the angry throes of drugs or alcohol, and leave. Hell, we even have to leave the Gay Starbucks sometimes for the same reason.

Our isolated back yard is looking better and better all the time.

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